San Francisco 49ers: Projecting the 2017 Inside Linebacker Depth Chart

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Apr 28, 2017; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers first round draft pick linebacker Reuben Foster answers questions from the media during the press conference at Levi’s Stadium Auditorium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

After last week’s 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers have three inside linebackers — NaVorro Bowman, Malcolm Smith and Reuben Foster — but only two starting positions. Will one of the Niners’ middle linebackers be forced to switch positions in order to stay on the field?


It’s been a few years since the San Francisco 49ers had a “good” roster problem; too many starters, and not enough positions on the field.

The 49ers defense is led by four-time All-Pro NaVorro Bowman, who is progressing well from a 2016 Achilles injury.

This year, however, Bowman has some competition at his position.

Earlier this offseason, the Niners signed Malcolm Smith to a five-year contract, which appeared to solidify him next to Bowman in the starting lineup.

Then, in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the 49ers traded up to select middle-linebacker Reuben Foster out of Alabama.

In this slideshow, we’ll look at the now-crowded middle linebacker group as the Niners try to formulate the most effective defense for the upcoming season.

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