Ahmad Brooks embarrassed himself, and the veteran linebacker apologized to his 49ers teammates and coaches for the sideline rant.
Brooks said Wednesday he was benched for the second half of Sunday's 16-10 road win against the Giants for heated words he directed at defensive line coach Jim Tomsula in the second quarter.
Brooks was frustrated with his playing time on a day linebacker Aldon Smith returned for his season debut following a nine-game suspension. The outside linebacker apologized to Tomsula and said they have moved forward.
There had been speculation Brooks removed himself from the game, which he clarified and coach Jim Harbaugh noted to the media, “You don't know all the facts.”
“It was an emotional reaction during the game and I reacted out of my character. I did not quit on the team, I did not take myself out of the game,” Brooks said. “But words that were said by me obviously couldn't be taken back, so they decided to just not put me back in the game for the remainder of the game.”
Harbaugh spoke to Brooks and reiterated he remains a key member of a talented defensive front. Brooks is scheduled to play Sunday when the 49ers (6-4) host the Washington Redskins (3-7).
Brooks said he realized on the cross-country flight home that an apology to the team was in order because “I felt bad and I didn't like that feeling.”
“I said my apologies to the team. We're just moving forward. We've still got six games left. We still have the team to make it to the Super Bowl,” Brooks said. “We don't want to focus on the distractions. We've had several distractions this year. I can't be a distraction, especially by me being a veteran. I can't bring that attitude to the team. I'm going to look at myself in the mirror and say, 'What can I do to make Ahmad Brooks better?'”
The 30-year-old Brooks has 20 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble. He has started 58 straight games under fourth-year coach Harbaugh.
“We've addressed it,” Harbaugh said. “It's not insubordination, so let's just clear that one up. Got emotional on the sideline. Emotions played into it when it shouldn't. We've got to overcome something like that. I trust Ahmad Brooks, believe in Ahmad Brooks. Know he's going to make a vital contribution to our team as he always has. And the cold, hard facts are that the last 58 games, he's started the last 58 games. Nobody has answered the bell more than Ahmad Brooks has for this football team. Certainly, nobody in this room can say they've done that. I haven't done the research on the entire NFL or even our entire team, somebody may at least be tied, but you can't get better than 58 out of 58. I trust Ahmad Brooks.”