The San Francisco 49ers drafted Aldon Smith last year as an outside linebacker, but ended up using him primarily as a nickel defensive end. Without a traditional offseason to get acclimated, the team was content letting him focus on his pass rushing skills in games, while working on the rest of the OLB package in practice. It worked out pretty well as Smith was a dominant pass rusher. Now he gets a full offseason to develop the rest of his game and potentially turn into a more well-rounded outside linebacker.
The timing on that is kind of important given that the 49ers could find themselves losing starting OLB Ahmad Brooks. The former pass rush specialist showed he could handle a more all-inclusive role in 2011 and was among the team leaders in total defensive snaps. He enters free agency a bit under the radar, which surprises me considering how he performed in 2012. The 49ers conceivably might be able to get him back without breaking the bank, but I still think someone out there drives the price up a bit.
Given all that, the 49ers are likely in serious need of another outside linebacker. Parys Haralson seems settled in as a two-down linebacker who needs to be replaced on passing downs. If that is the case, could the 49ers look to replicate last year's scenario with Smith and Brooks? Could we potentially see the 49ers move Smith into a full-time OLB role and bring in another converted defensive end to complement Parys Haralson. SB Nation put together a new mock draft yesterday with the 49ers grabbing USC's Nick Perry at No. 30.
I've added a poll to see what people think about the first round pick. I'm curious from a general standpoint what position you think the 49ers select with the pick. There are a lot of factors that will go into what player is selected, but just from a general perspective, in which direction do you see the 49ers going with the pick?