Outside Linebackers: Todd Shell (1984-1987), Tully Banta-Cain (2007-2008)
Inside Linebackers: Jamie Winborn (2001-2005), Saleem Rasheed (2002-2005)
Linebacker Todd Shell was a part of a great 49ers era, which makes him largely a forgotten commodity among what was otherwise a storied period of San Francisco history.
But the first-round selection of the Niners in the 1984 NFL draft never materialized into the bona fide player for which San Francisco was hoping. Despite a three-interception rookie season, Shell never lasted beyond his four-year stint with the 49ers and was out of the league in 1988.
Legal issued marred Shell’s post-football life as well.
Fellow outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain was supposed to be a solid free-agent acquisition with a Super Bowl pedigree stemming from his time with the New England Patriots.
During his 49er tenure, Banta-Cain posted only four sacks and started a mere 10 games with a San Francisco defense that was desperately looking for help. Needless to say, the 49ers saw no need in retaining him, and he was released following the 2008 season.
Inside linebacker Jamie Winborn was coming to a 49ers team entering one of the worst stretches in franchise history. The second-round pick of the Niners in 2001 had a promising collegiate career but never truly translated that over to the pro level.
He’d become a journeyman linebacker after leaving San Francisco in 2005.
Linebacker Saleem Rasheed, a third-round selection of the 49ers in 2002, also never developed into anything more than an oft-injured backup. He started just four games out of 45 played and was out of the NFL in 2006.
Backups: Winfred Tubbs, Outside/Inside Linebacker (1998-2000), Manny Lawson, Outside Linebacker (2006-2010)
Linebacker Winfred Tubbs went to the Pro Bowl in 1998, but he never came close to justifying his huge free-agent contract granted that season.
San Francisco’s first-round pick from the 2006 draft, Manny Lawson, should have resulted in him becoming one of the NFL’s best. Instead he was part of one of the worst linebacker groups in the NFL. This is a case of expectations never being met.
Next: Defensive Line