Donte Whitner talks to Ahmad Brooks about behavior
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Safety Donte Whitner has already spoken to San Francisco 49ers teammate Ahmad Brooks ahead of training camp about the importance of making smart decisions off the football field.
Last week, the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office declined to pursue assault charges against Brooks because of insufficient evidence in an investigation into allegations that the linebacker repeatedly hit teammate Lamar Divens on the head with a beer bottle in a June altercation at Brooks’ home.
While Brooks wasn’t made available to media Wednesday when veterans for the Super Bowl runner-up Niners reported to team headquarters, Whitner said he expects good things from Brooks and hopes everyone can move forward without this distraction.
“He’s tremendously sorry for what he did, anybody would be embarrassed,” Whitner said. “I talked to Ahmad. He explained the situation, I gave him my input on it and we left it at that. ... He just has to move on and make sure he continues to make the right choices from this point on, he’ll be OK.”
General manager Trent Baalke wouldn’t say whether Brooks might face disciplinary action from the team, and it is unclear what action the NFL might take, if any.
“Once again, the discussion we have with Ahmad or any of our players is within the team, within the building,” Baalke said.
Brooks was never arrested. According to police, he hit Divens with the bottle three times and then punched him in the face during an early morning argument June 8. Divens was left with a 3-inch cut on his forehead, according to police statements.
The police reports also said Brooks, Divens and others had been drinking and went to a bar before returning to Brooks’ house. Divens pretended to throw Brooks’ keys in the grass, though he had actually held onto the keys, prompting the attack, according to the reports. Investigators were told Brooks was intoxicated and had threatened to get a gun.
“You talk to those guys pretty much one on one, private conversations, you don’t really put it out there for everybody to see or everybody to know,” Whitner said. “It’s just choices that you make outside of here. It’s a bad choice that he made. He’s going to have to pay for that. We don’t know what it’s going to be yet. He understands (making) good choices. We’re a good football team, a lot of eyes are on us now, even more than last year and the year before. You have to make good decisions, hang out with the right people, make good choices and he’s going to do that from here on out.”
While Whitner has been supportive helping Brooks through his off-field business, he is hopeful that his own unsettled contract situation will in time work out so that he stays with the 49ers beyond this season.
The eighth-year defensive back is beginning the final year of an $11.75 million, three-year deal he signed before the 2011 season.
Whitner, who celebrated his 28th birthday Wednesday with a handful of Skittles rather than cake so he can maintain his weight, last week posted on Twitter his desire to stay put with the 49ers.
“I love the Niners! But will I be here next yr?” he said in one Tweet, before following it up with, “Don’t get it twisted! I WANT to be here.”
He said he took to social media with his contract desires because he enjoys engaging the fans — and it sure doesn’t hurt that 49ers CEO Jed York is an active Twitter man himself.
“He follows me,” Whitner said, chuckling. “Oh, a lot of fans like stuff like that. We don’t really look at it like a distraction. Most of my teammates haven’t even seen it or heard about it, so it’s really just for the fans.”
Yet the hard-hitting Whitner is thinking about his long-term future. He had 83 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception last season for the two-time defending NFC West champions.
He is eager to get started again and to try to get back to the Super Bowl.
“Anybody who ever says it’s not a concern, they’re probably lying,” Whitner said of landing new contracts. “It’s always a concern, especially when you’re in the business that’s so physical and you never know what’s going to happen on the football field.”
San Francisco’s first full-squad practice is Thursday. The first workout in full pads is expected to be Saturday.
Notes: LB Patrick Willis and RB Frank Gore each said he believed everybody had passed conditioning tests Wednesday, though the team didn’t have official word. Willis spoke to the team after last month’s minicamp about keeping a good thing going and maintaining an edge in a much-improved division and with a daunting schedule ahead. “I just talk when something’s on my heart,” he said. “When you just glance at the schedule it’s like, ’Wow, this is a heck of a schedule.” ... Whitner recently traveled to London on a scouting trip to visit Wembley Stadium ahead of the team’s Oct. 27 game with Jacksonville.