49ers Depth Chart: Linebacker
While not quite as prolific as the Niners defensive line, San Francisco’s crop of linebackers is arguably the most talented and promising group at this position in the NFL entering 2020.
This was thanks mostly to the emergence of then-rookie backer Dre Greenlaw, who did more than just step up in the injury-related absence of the veteran, Kwon Alexander, for the second half of 2019.
Alexander is back healthy now, joining a group including both Greenlaw and the up-and-coming Fred Warner, who is slowly emerging into the ranks of best linebackers in the game today.
Granted, the prevalence of nickel defenses means the 49ers can only play two linebackers most of the time, ultimately meaning one of these three will miss out on a lot of snaps. But with defensive coordinator Robert Saleh going to a more traditional setup, the WILL, MIKE and SAM backers are much more interchangeable now than they were in 2017 or 2018.
That should afford this trio plenty of rest while guarding against injury, just as it did last season.
- Kwon Alexander
- Fred Warner
- Dre Greenlaw
- Mark Nzeocha
- Joe Walker
The only notable question marks about the 49ers depth chart here is, well, the depth. San Francisco likes Mark Nzeocha’s special teams abilities, which probably keeps him safe on the 53-man roster.
Second-year pro Azeez Al-Shaair flashed those abilities, too, yet his limited time on defense left a lot to be desired and probably prompted the Niners to bring aboard the veteran, Joe Walker, during free agency.
In this prediction, Walker gets the nod.