The San Francisco 49ers have grown a bit short-handed at inside linebacker, and they are looking at the free agent market to find some help. Draft Diamonds is reporting (since confirmed by ESPN's Josina Anderson) the team is bringing in free agent linebacker Erin Henderson for a visit on Wednesday. Both reported Henderson had a general private workout in Arizona prior to the Veteran's Combine, and will then now follow up with the 49ers.
Henderson plays middle linebacker, but sat out the 2014 season. Prior to that, he played for the Minnesota Vikings from 2008 to 2013. He had his best season in 2013, finishing the year with 112 tackles, 4.0 sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Pro Football Focus graded him out at +2.5 overall, with a +6.7 on run defense, +1.2 in pass rush, and a -6.6 in pass coverage.
It would appear Henderson was out of the league in part because of a pair of DUI arrests in late 2013 and early 2014. He was later charged with DWI and drug possession (marijuana), and appears to have pled out and gotten two years of probation. Shortly after the second arrest (which happened on January 1), he entered an in-patient rehab facility. Last April, he talked about sobering up, but I am not seeing much since about how he is doing.
It appears Henderson was suspended for four games at the start of the 2014 season, but since he did not sign with a team, I believe the suspension would carry over to this season. It is also worth noting he was also suspended for four games in 2009 under the old banned substances policy.
Fooch's Update: I spoke with Christopher Gates from Daily Norseman, and this is what he had to say about Henderson
Erin Henderson followed in the footsteps of his brother, E.J., from the University of Maryland to the Minnesota Vikings. He played sparingly in his first couple of seasons, and won the weak side linebacker job in 2011. He moved to the middle linebacker spot in 2013, and didn't play all that well at the position. He's had a few off-the-field problems. . .he was suspended for four games in his rookie season (2009) for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, and he was released by the Vikings in 2014 following a pair of DUI arrests.
Henderson's biggest strength on the field has been as a run defender, and while he's not great in pass coverage, he really isn't a liability, either. If I were the Niners, I would probably try him on the inside first, but I'm not sure how Tomsula is going to run things or what sort of scheme he's going to use. But if Henderson has his head on straight and his personal demons behind him, he could be a solid short-term addition to the Niners' defense.