No. 2: Linebacker Eli Harold
"More from Niner Noise 49ers 2023 NFL Draft tracker: Pick-by-pick news and analysis Predicting 49ers NFL Draft picks by looking at final mocks DraftKings NFL Draft Promo – Win $150 Guaranteed on Any $5 Bet 2023 NFL Draft: EDGE Byron Young could be impact player for 49ers 5 low-key NFL Draft options for 49ers who are flying under the radar Although 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh implements a 4-3 defensive scheme with a combination of “over” and “under” fronts, it is not a three-stacked-linebacker scheme. Instead, the 49ers use two nearly identical inside linebackers — the MIKE and WILL linebackers — and one outside linebacker, who is referred to as the SAM linebacker, but doesn’t always line up on the strong side of the formation. With Foster likely playing WILL — where he excelled in 2017 — the 49ers have a four-man competition at MIKE, between Malcolm Smith, Fred Warner, Brock Coyle and Korey Toomer."
One of Warner’s strengths in college was the ability to play in coverage. Almost “like a safety,” as NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein noted.
Strong-side (SAM) linebackers typically handle coverage duties in Saleh’s defense. It’s one of the reasons why Harold had just 26 tackles and two sacks last season.
In this, though, Harold wasn’t exactly a top performer. Pro Football Focus gave the fourth-year pro a 49.6 pass-coverage grade last year, and he actually graded out better against the run (55.0), although not by much.
With both Toomer and Smith excelling against the run, and Warner able to manage coverage, there simply might not be a spot for Harold to hold onto in 2018.