According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco 49ers plan to release linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who was set to enter his 12th NFL season.

Brooks has been entrenched in a battle for the starting Sam linebacker spot with Eli Harold, who is 10 years younger than the veteran. At a cost of $6.15 million against the salary cap this season, Brooks also was set to make significantly more money than Harold, who will count just over $823,000 against the cap.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan insisted this week that salary would play no part in the decision of who would start.

"I don't even know what their salaries are," Shanahan said during a conference call on Sunday. "I try not to even look at that because I want to make the right decision. I don't like anything to skew me on that type of stuff. So, I try to go off what I see at practice. You want to know who's got the most upside and things like that. Who's going to be better throughout the year if given the opportunity? But, you also want to know who, when it's all said and done, who's going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things that I look at personally.

"You don't always want to think who's the best guy for Week 1. Who's the best guy for the 2017 49ers? I try to simplify my thoughts in that way. That's why I really don't find out about salaries until I've already made a decision."

On Thursday, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh discussed both Brooks and Harold.

"Eli's very athletic," Saleh said. "I mean, they're both built the same. If you're looking at Eli and Ahmad, they're very athletic, they're both very strong, they both love the game. So, it's a good problem. You've got two very good football players. That thing's not even close to done yet. But, having another person who can add value to that position has been a bonus. So for Eli, his athleticism, his violence, his love for the game, that's all been an exciting part for him."

Barrows joined our "No Huddle" podcast this week and briefly explained why Harold might beat out Brooks.

"When you're in rebuilding mode like the 49ers are and you've got a six-year contract like John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan do, you're probably going to go with the younger guy a lot of times," Barrows said.

It would appear that Harold has shown enough in practices and during preseason games to win the starting job, making Brooks expendable.

Brooks has started at least 13 games each season since becoming a starter in 2011. Harold started in Brooks' place during the 49ers' second preseason game and scored higher grades than Brooks in each of the team's two preseason games, per Pro Football Focus.

Over his career, Brooks has 370 tackles, 53.5 sacks, 30 passes defensed, three interceptions, and 12 forced fumbles. His 51.5 sacks with the 49ers rank third in team history behind just Bryant Young and Charles Haley.

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