Niner Noise takes a look at the San Francisco 49ers’ situation at linebacker heading into 2018 and breaks down what you need to know ahead of training camp.
Earlier this offseason, the San Francisco 49ers‘ situation at linebacker was dicey at best.
Promising 2017 rookie Reuben Foster had been arrested twice, was charged with multiple felonies and was facing a real possibility of not being on the team any longer. And with other depth concerns, it made plenty of sense general manager John Lynch and Co. looked for some fallback options.
Free agency provided one notable addition, former Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Korey Toomer, while the Niners then used a third-round pick on BYU’s Fred Warner in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Foster, of course, was cleared for most of the charges and will now face a mere two-game suspension to start 2018.
Not bad, considering what could have happened there.
Tack on a fully healthy veteran, Malcolm Smith, returning from a season-long pectoral injury in 2017, and suddenly the 49ers have a deep crop of players at the position. In many ways, this is a good thing. It should spark competition for training camp, which kicks off on July 25. And the added depth provides insurance for Foster’s absence and any unforeseen injuries from this crop.
In an ideal situation, though, how will this unit pan out over the course of 2018? Despite the shortcomings and injury attrition last year, the Niners averaged a full yard less against on the ground — 3.8 in 2017, compared to 4.8 the year before.
With the reinforcements, should fans assume this group will be even better this upcoming season?
Niner Noise takes a comprehensive look at San Francisco’s linebacking corps ahead of camp, breaking down what you’ll need to know in advance of 2018.