49ers guard against Dre Greenlaw injury by drafting this linebacker

The 49ers went to a position they draft better than anyone else in the NFL, grabbing linebacker Tatum Bethune out of FSU with the 251st pick of the NFL Draft. Here's how he'll help the 49ers.
Tatum Bethune at the NFL Scouting Combine
Tatum Bethune at the NFL Scouting Combine / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The San Francisco 49ers have had several draft hits under Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, but the position they have been most successful at compared to any other team in the NFL is probably off-ball linebacker.

From drafting the best linebacker in the NFL currently in Fred Warner in the third round, stalwart Dre Greenlaw in the fifth, as well as young and upcoming players Jalen Graham and Dee Winters last year, the 49ers know what they are looking for at linebacker.

That makes their final selection in the 2024 NFL Draft, Tatum Bethune out of FSU, all the more interesting.

Bethune, a two-year transfer to Florida State following three years at UCF, played 13 games his final year, finishing with an interception and 70 total tackles. It was a down year compared to the two before, where he had over 80 tackles per year along with more than five tackles for loss.

He wraps up the 49ers' 2024 draft class.

What Tatum Bethune brings to the 49ers

Bethune is an undersized off-ball linebacker, an archetype of player the 49ers have coveted and developed quite successfully throughout the Lynch-Shanahan era. Scouting reports universally highlight his motor and instincts.

No matter what, Bethune goes after the ball and tries to make a play, a skill that is oftentimes undervalued when drafting players.

He hits well, attacks the ball, and can make a play or two in the passing game, too.

Areas of Concern for the 49ers

With all those descriptors, Bethune sounded like a player who should have been drafted much sooner than the seventh round. While his intangibles are elite, and there is no doubt that he can carve himself out a career in the NFL, Bethune's ceiling is capped by his lack of high-end athletic traits. Unlike the 49ers' tandem at linebacker' currently, Bethune does not possess elite-level speed or acceleration that could allow him to keep up with the slot receivers and athletic tight ends in the NFL.

Additionally, Bethune can struggle with tackling due to an unconventional form that leads to potentially missed tafckles.

For a 49ers team that has was plagued by missed tackles, that's a big deal.

How Tatum Bethune will fit in for the 49ers

Bethune will slot in for competition along with the aforementioned younger linebackers to make the roster, sitting behind Fred Warner, DeVondre Campbell, and Dre Greenlaw as he recovers.

However, Bethune's aggressive play style and tenacity should earn him a spot on special teams, making him a ready-made contributor for San Francisco. What remains to be seen is whether his potential as a contributor on the defensive side can secure him a position on the roster.

If Bethune makes the team, however, he will certainly be a name that pops up during a game.

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