49ers depth chart: Predicting who makes the cut at linebacker

Kwon Alexander #56 and Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Kwon Alexander #56 and Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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San Francisco 49ers middle linebacker Fred Warner (54) and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw (57) tackle Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister (48) Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers likely keep four, perhaps five linebackers in 2021. Aside from Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, the depth chart is wide open.

At the very surface, the San Francisco 49ers have one of the league’s better linebacking tandems heading into 2021.

While the duo of Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw might not be on par with the heyday years of former Niners linebacking greats like Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, all one needs to do is look at the first-team All-Pro efforts from Warner last year and the Week 17 game-winning goal-line tackle by Greenlaw against the Seattle Seahawks in 2019 to be pretty comfortable about San Francisco’s starting cast moving forward.

After that, however, it’s a pretty open-ended question what the 49ers will do at the position.

The Niners spent some serious effort during the offseason adding and subtracting to their linebacker corps, including signing and eventually releasing Nathan Gerry while grabbing two undrafted free agents, Justin Hilliard and Elijah Sullivan, to compete with some of the other depth members at the position.

Many of the new faces could potentially double as safety/hybrid types, further confirming the old-school linebackers of the 1970s and 1980s are somewhat archaic now.

But with San Francisco likely keeping four linebackers on the 53-man roster, perhaps five depending on special teams abilities, it’s a fair question to ask just how the team’s linebacker depth chart will look by the time the regular season rolls around.

Fortunately, the 49ers have enjoyed clean bills of health from players like Warner and Greenlaw, but depth is awfully important.

Let’s kick off our linebacker predictions by first looking at who’s on the 90-man roster right now.