49ers need Mychal Kendricks to boost razor-thin linebacker depth

Mychal Kendricks #56 of the Seattle Seahawks (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mychal Kendricks #56 of the Seattle Seahawks (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

There’s not too much a worry about the 49ers’ starting linebackers, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, but adding Mychal Kendricks guards against poor depth.

One could almost make this argument about a lot of the San Francisco 49ers‘ positional units heading into 2021.

On top of the depth chart, the Niners are fine. But behind the starters, they’re razor-thin.

Such is the case at linebacker where last year’s first-team All-Pro, Fred Warner, looks to pick up where he left off alongside fellow backer Dre Greenlaw, whose impressive 2019 rookie season saw a slight regression a year ago. Not much, but noticeably there.

Behind those two, third-year pro Azeez Al-Shaair appears to be the favorite for the No. 3 linebacker on the depth chart. But him suffering a knee injury, albeit somewhat a minor one, likely prompted head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch to rethink and readdress their reserve linebackers before Week 1 of the regular season kicked off.

49ers address key depth need by signing Mychal Kendricks

In the middle of San Francisco’s preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Aug. 14, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the 49ers were inking veteran linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who had worked out with the team earlier in the week:

After the game, Shanahan couldn’t confirm to reporters whether or not the news story was true, but he did add “I hope we did.”

Shanahan also noted how Kendricks impressed him, both during time with the Seattle Seahawks and previously with the Philadelphia Eagles, and Shanahan saw his defensive efforts up close and personal.

At 30 years old, the former second-round NFL Draft pick probably isn’t going to unseat Greenlaw on the depth chart. But Kendricks if far more experienced than Al-Shaair and should provide a significant player upgrade over some of the options buried deeper on the depth chart.

Linebacker Jonas Griffith impressed a lot during Week 1 of the preseason and certainly improved his roster chances, while two undrafted rookies from this year, Justin Hilliard and Elijah Sullivan, also made their respective presence felt during the game.

Read More: 49ers linebacker depth is awfully thin behind Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw

Still, all three have to be considered as outsiders to make San Francisco’s 53-man roster.

Even if one of those three did, expecting them to fill a void in the wake of a would-be injury to Warner or Greenlaw would be a tall ask.

At least by getting Kendricks, the 49ers should feel a bit more comfortable in case they lose one of their top linebackers for any extended length of time this upcoming season.

dark. Next. 49ers roster bubble watch, preseason edition