The San Francisco 49ers rookies and first year players reported to training camp on Wednesday. The 49ers will look for impact right away from some of their rookies, while others are part of the developmental process to replace veterans in the coming years. We're running through the 49ers draft picks to figure out some realistic best and worst case scenarios for their rookie seasons. Thus far, we've taken a look at defensive back Jimmie Ward, running back Carlos Hyde, and center. Today, we opened with center Marcus Martin, and now move on to the 49ers other 3rd round pick, linebacker Chris Borland.
The 49ers inside linebacker situation faces some question marks for the first time in a while. Patrick Willis remains in the lineup, but the team will be without NaVorro Bowman for an indefinite amount of time to start the season. Michael Wilhoite is the front-runner for ILB work alongside Patrick Willis, but the team drafted Chris Borland to compete with Wilhoite. One of the two (or Nick Moody or Shayne Skov) will claim the starting job, but the 49ers will still need the depth. Patrick Willis has dealt with a variety of minor injuries throughout his career. Michael Wilhoite started twice in place of Willis in 2013, so if he (or Borland) moves into the starting lineup next to him, the 49ers will still need a second option.
Best Case Scenario
Borland claims the starting ILB job opposite Patrick Willis. He operates as a bit of a garbage man, doing a lot of dirty work, but still having plenty of big tackle games. If Borland moves into the starting lineup, it's entirely possible he makes as big an impact as any of the 49ers rookies.
Worst Case Scenario
Borland cannot beat out Wilhoite for the starting job, and his size is potentially one of the reasons. He's not a small guy, but he's got shorter arms, and maybe that comes back to bite Baalke. It could even reach the point where Nick Moody or Shayne Skov shows enough to get past Borland on the linebacker depth chart. That being said, even if Borland cannot claim a starting job, I think the worst case scenario still results in him getting a sizable chunk of special teams snaps.