San Francisco 49ers: Starting Lineup Predictions for 2016 Season
Inside Linebackers: NaVorro Bowman, Gerald Hodges
Outside Linebackers: Aaron Lynch, Ahmad Brooks
There are no surprises here. All-Pro NaVorro Bowman is the leader of the defense, and linebacker Aaron Lynch is the best pass-rusher on the team. Veteran linebacker Ahmad Brooks is infuriating, and he always looks like to be a cap casualty, but he is still on the team and there isn’t any indication he is going anywhere.
This will be his last season as a Niner unless he shows marked improvement in 2016. The team cannot continue to carry his hefty salary for below-par production. He needs a 10-plus sack season to survive.
Hodges is competing with Ray-Ray Armstrong and Michael Wilhoite for the spot alongside Bowman. Hodges had a below-average season in 2015, grading at a plus-43.6 (from a zero to 100 scale) per Pro Football Focus.
If you think this isn’t good enough to start, Wilhoite was much worse — he graded at a plus-33.1 (from the same scale) which was ranked dead-last out of 97 qualified linebackers.
Wilhoite and Armstrong will be the backups, whilst Nick Bellore will remain as a special teams ace.
Next: Defensive Backs