The 49era kept three outside linebackers on their roster last season. When rosters were trimmed to 53 players this season they chose to once again take just three OLBs on the roster. Ahmad Brooks, Aldon Smith and Parys Haralson were the only players to make the team at the position.
When news broke of Haralsons season ending injury and the subsequent signing of former Steeler and Cardinal Clark Haggans a panic has ensued over the Niner Faithful. Haggans had a hearing on Wednesday with the NFL over a DUI that landed him in jail this off-season and could face disciplinary action from the league.
However if and when Haggans does miss time due to suspension, the 49ers will already have everything under control. The decision on whether or not to suspend Haggans wont come down from the league for about 2 weeks or so.
By then the team wont need Haggans. Haggans was brought in to fill a small window in which this team needs an OLB. The 49ers never planned on keeping more than 3 once rookie Cam Johnson was injured in the preseason.
Johnson returned from the injury in time to play in the teams 4th preseason game. Johnson is physically ready to play but the rookie sat out of training camp with the injury for too long to justify a roster spot right now. Once he’s ready he will be a candidate to replace the 35 year old Haggans.
In the short term the Niners have plenty to compensate if there is a series of injuries at the position during a game.
The coaching staff has already indicated that Defensive End/Tight End Demarcus Dobbs, whom has worked at the position this off season could play there in a pinch. Other options include sliding over one of the backup inside linebackers Larry Grant or Tavares Gooden in an emergency situation.
The team could potentially use Navarro Bowman who played OLB at Penn State or even Justin Smith who was originally brought into the organization to play the position by former coach Mike Nolan.
The 49ers have a couple players who look expendable if the team has to go out and get another OLB before Cam Johnson is available. TE Garrett Celek and Safety Darcel McBath were both surprises that made the roster this year and could be bumped to the practice squad if necessary.
General Manager Trent Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh have proven they know how to build a roster. The 49ers are one of, if not the deepest team in the entire league. These men have proved to be eschewed and calculated in their personnel moves and we have no reason to doubt that these men have this situation handled.
So relax 49er fans, this is still the best defense in the league, losing your #3 OLB doesn’t change that one bit. And besides, all the Packers do is throw the ball anyway so the team will likely spend much of the game in a nickle package.
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