Matt Maiocco is reporting from the owners' meetings that the San Francisco 49ers are interested in adding some depth at inside linebacker. In light of NaVorro Bowman's knee injury, this is not surprising. We've discussed this issue at length, but it's always a plus to get an anonymous source to weigh in on the issue.
According to the source, the 49ers are "interested in adding a bargain free agent for depth", but could also look to the 2014 NFL Draft to get some more depth. Matt is just doing his job with this report, but it's still kind of funny to consider the relatively obvious nature of this.
The 49ers have Michael Wilhoite, Nick Moody and Darius Fleming on the inside linebacker depth chart. Trent Baalke has said in the past that Wilhoite and Moody will get opportunities to fill in for Bowman. I suspect Wilhoite ends up handling the bulk of the duties, but it makes sense to add further depth. Moody will get opportunities, but he has limited experience, and given the fact that Patrick Willis has suffered multiple injuries during his career, it would be wise to add at least one more body to the mix.
It sounds like Bowman is continuing to progress on schedule, but he is still likely going to miss the start of the 2014 regular season. The odds are pretty high that he opens the season the PUP list. He would be able to come back in late October, but the team would have the roster spot to be patient with his recovery. They're not going to rush such an important piece back from such a major injury.
Given the number of draft picks at their disposal, I would not be surprised to see the 49ers add an insde linebacker on Day 3. They can bring in some competition, and potentially find a late-round gem. Even if Wilhoite secures the starting job, Moody appears to be primarily a special teams guy, and Darius Fleming is coming off two straight torn ACLs. We don't really know how the 49ers view Moody in the linebacker picture. He is a bit undersized, but one of the concerns with Bowman coming out of college was his size.
I don't think the 49ers interest in depth means they don't expect much from Moody. Rather, it's a matter of depth as long as Bowman is sidelined. Of course, if the 49ers do just grab a late round linebacker, it could tell us they have a relatively strong opinion of Moody.