No. 3: Inside Linebacker Dont’a Hightower
This might be the most surprising one on this entire list, but hear me out first. I’ve been as big a proponent of signing LB Dont’a Hightower as any other 49er fan, but there were some red flags throughout this process.
First, there weren’t many suitors for Hightower as one would expect for a dominant linebacker. The Pittsburgh Steelers showed interest in him, but let him leave without signing him to a contract.
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Then, the New York Jets were reportedly courting the Patriots linebacker, but after a physical, they decided to pull the offer.
This raised the question, why was a dominant, top of the market, free agent only being courted by three teams, one being his own?
Hightower is a chess piece on defense, he isn’t necessarily a true inside linebacker or a solid outside pass rusher. Over the past three seasons, he’s missed 11 games due to various injuries with New England.
Also, playing for Bill Belichick, Hightower was implemented in a system that best suited his strengths, but with the 49ers, could he and LB NaVorro Bowman be a strong tandem?
Not so sure if he could be what LB Patrick Willis was for Bowman, but it was smart of the 49ers to avoid the risk with Hightower.