SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Ahmad Brooks is no stranger to Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Some of the biggest plays of the 49ers linebacker's career have come against the Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
''Maybe I just have a ray of light over me when I play against them,'' Brooks said. ''I've done an exceptional job against them every time I play against them.''
Brooks has 5 1.2 sacks and two interceptions, the most against any opponent, in five career games against Brees and the Saints. They visit San Francisco on Sunday looking to build off an impressive home victory against the Seahawks, their third win in four games.
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The last time the 49ers played New Orleans in 2014, Brooks sacked Brees and forced a fumble in overtime, leading to a game-winning field goal from Phil Dawson.
That play avenged a penalty called on Brooks the previous season, when he was given a controversial personal foul for hitting Brees in the neck area on a sack while also forcing a fumble. It was recovered by San Francisco, which had a three-point lead with 3 minutes remaining, in Saints' territory.
But the flag instead extended New Orleans' drive leading to tying field goal. The Saints wound up winning on Garrett Hartley's 31-yard kick as time expired, 23-20.
''He's a shorter guy at quarterback, so if we do get a chance to hit him, you got to get him low,'' said Brooks. ''He also ducks, so you got to get extra low on him when you can.''
The 49ers finished that season 12-4, one game behind the division winners Seattle, and were forced to play the Seahawks on the road in the NFC Championship Game, which they lost in heartbreaking fashion, 23-17.
''I know he's a really good player and he's really good in both the pass rush and in the run,'' Brees said about Brooks. ''And whenever he drops into coverage, he's a really athletic guy who's got good ball skills – and he's picked me off a few times, too.''
San Francisco has lost six straight, with the defense hoping to prevent a 100-yard rusher for the first time since the season opener. The 49ers have the league's last-ranked run defense, while New Orleans eclipsed 120 yards rushing for the first time last week.
Brees enters the weekend averaging an NFL-best 337.9 yards per game with second-highest completions percentage (69.5) and second most touchdown passes (18).
''They've been in it together for 10 years. So, there's been a lot of continuity there,'' 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil said about Brees and Saints coach Sean Payton. ''There's not too many things that they haven't seen as an offensive staff and personnel-wise with those guys. But, you've got to out-execute them.''
NOTES: RB Carlos Hyde returned to practice this week after missing the previous game with a shoulder injury CB Rashard Robinson (knee) and LB Aaron Lynch (ankle) did not practice For New Orleans, T Terron Armstead (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (quadricep), LB James Laurinaitis (quadricep) and S Kenny Vaccaro (knee) did not practice.