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49ers trying to trade linebacker Michael Wilhoite

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The San Francisco 49ers have a lot of depth at inside linebacker. They might be looking for a way to cash in on the depth.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL league year gets going in less than a week, and things are heating up for the San Francisco 49ers. Matt Barrows is reporting the team is shopping linebacker Michael Wilhoite for a sixth or seventh round pick. Wilhoite is an exclusive rights free agent this offseason, which means they basically just hand him a contract and say sign it. He will likely earn the league minimum, and barring any kind of extension, would be a restricted free agent next season.

Wilhoite is in a log-jam at inside linebacker. He entered last season as the starter in place of an injured NaVorro Bowman. When Patrick Willis got hurt, Chris Borland took over that spot. They worked well together, but as we head into the offseason, healthier linebackers potentially push Wilhoite to strictly a special teams role.

Bowman and Willis are both continuing their rehab, with the hope that they are good to go the coming season. The team will want depth given their recent injuries, but Borland has emerged as a dynamic force. People have asked whether the team might trade or release Bowman or Willis, but that seems highly unlikely this year. The team might listen to offers for them, but I don't see them dealing them.

Wilhoite is a very capable replacement for either of them, but his ceiling is fairly limited. If the 49ers do not find a taker, I would be plenty happy keeping him around, but if they can get a late pick for the former undrafted free agent, I think they have to do it.