While the San Francisco 49ers have many pressing needs, they will likely look to add depth at linebacker in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. Niner Noise takes a look at possible linebacker options for the 49ers to select in the later rounds of the draft.
The San Francisco 49ers saw improvement at the linebacker position as the 2018 season progressed. Hindered by missed tackles and opportunities, the vast majority of San Francisco’s linebackers got off to a rather underwhelming start.
In his game time prior to his release by the 49ers, linebacker Reuben Foster had limited effect on the field and was one of the prime culprits for missing tackles. Veteran Malcolm Smith also had a sub-standard season, as the linebacker was hampered by a lingering Achilles injury.
Starting the season at MIKE linebacker, rookie Fred Warner impressed the coaching staff and performed to a high enough standard that he will retain the position heading into 2019.
Warner finished his rookie year having started all 16 games. He had a combined total of 124 tackles, 85 of which were solo tackles, as well as three tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. By comparison, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner came in second place on the team with 67 combined tackles.
The production rate for Warner was one of the more positive aspects of the Niners’ defense throughout the 2018 season, as the team struggled in many other areas.
Likewise, linebacker Elijah Lee was provided the opportunity to step up and became quite active over the second half of the season. Lining up at the WILL linebacker position, Lee would turn out to be one of the 49ers’ more prominent defensive players.
Lee ranked third on the team with a combined 65 tackles, 54 of which were solo tackles. He had three tackles for loss as well as one quarterback hit, two pass deflections and one forced fumble. With both Lee and Warner proving to be a good combination in the middle of the field, there is every possibility that Lee will be given a shot at a starting role next season.
However, if the 49ers decide to bolster the position, they will likely look to either free agency or the later rounds of the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. With that, let’s take a look at five linebackers projected to go in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft that the 49ers may look to add to their defensive roster.