The 49ers, a team in the beginning stages of a major rebuilding project, plan to release linebacker Ahmad Brooks, 33, an 11-year veteran who is their longest-tenured defensive player, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Brooks was replaced by Eli Harold, 23, in the starting lineup for last week’s preseason loss against the Broncos.

On Thursday, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was asked about the competition between Harold and Brooks.

“Eli’s very athletic. I mean, they’re both built the same,” Saleh said. “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.”

There are, however, some major differences: Brooks has 53.5 career sacks, including six in each of the last six seasons, and is scheduled to count $6.1 million against the salary cap this season. Harold, a 2015 third-round pick, has three sacks and will count about $823,000 against the cap.

The 49ers have a league-high $63.9 million in cap space and head coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday that finances wouldn’t be a factor in the competition between Brooks and Harold.

“I don’t even know what their salaries are,” Shanahan said. “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.”

Twitter: @Eric_Branch

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