A couple days ago, we took a look at undrafted free agent safety Michael Thomas, who will be battling C.J. Spillman, Trenton Robinson, and Colin Jones for opportunities in the 49ers secondary. Today we move on to inside linebacker Joe Holland.
The 49ers are incredibly strong at this position with Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman both earning All-Pro nods this past season. The 49ers don't have a ton of depth, but Larry Grant proved to be a solid depth option in 2011. When Patrick Willis went down with an injury late in the season, Grant was very solid in his place for the short term.
Holland has reportedly impressed folks with his athleticism, but he also suffered a modest foot injury during the mandatory full-squad minicamp earlier this month. He was in a walking boot after the injury, but is expected to be 100% in time for training camp.
Started 48 of 49 games played and finished his Purdue career ranked in the top 15 all-time in tackles (324), while recording 23.5 TFLs, 5.5 sacks and 2 INTs. He was a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-District V honoree. Voted co-captain by his teammates in 2011, Holland led the team with 94 tackles and posted a career-high 10.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks and 1 INT. In 2010, he appeared in all 12 games, making 11 starts. He recorded 73 tackles, 7.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks. During his sophomore year he ranked second on the team with 81 tackles, including 3.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks. Moved from S to LB during training camp in 2008 and recorded 76 stops, 2.0 TFLs and 1 sack. The three-year starter at Bishop Chatard (Indianapolis, IN) HS was ranked the No. 4 player in Indiana by Rivals.com. Named all-state, Indianapolis City Player of the Year and All-North Football Player of the Year after rushing for 2,048 yds. on 239 carries and 35 TDs during his senior season. Set school record for career rushing yards (5,270). Also participated in basketball and track and field. Graduated with a degree in movement and sport science. Born Joseph Michael Holland on 8/20/88 in Indianapolis, IN.
2008: 76 tackles, 1 sack, 4 PDs
2009: 81 tackles, 1.5 sack, 1 interception, 2 PDs
2010: 73 tackles, 1.5 sacks
2011: 94 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 interceptions, 9 PDs
Positives: Athletic, quick linebacker who makes plays in every direction of the field. Breaks down well, displays good awareness and instinctive. Remains disciplined with assignments, shows skill in space and is effective in coverage. Possesses a quick burst to the action, turns it on in a single step and moves well in every direction. Breaks down well and effectively uses his hands to protect himself.
Negatives: Shows stiffness in his game. Not a physical linebacker.
Analysis: Holland possesses the athleticism and cover skills necessary to get consideration as a weak side linebacker in a conventional defense at the next level.
Outlook for 2012
The 49ers have one primary backup at inside linebacker in the form of Larry Grant. Tavares Gooden can play the position as well, but he is expected to focus on special teams most of the season. Although Larry Grant does not seem to be a long-term roster option, Holland still faces a tough task if he wants to earn a 53-man roster spot. If Holland impresses in training camp, he would seem to be a solid practice squad candidate that could earn the primary backup LB position next season.
Roster Projection: Practice Squad