The San Francisco 49ers have plenty to deal with in the upcoming 2015 NFL Draft, but in the meantime, the personnel department is keeping busy with other transactions. The team announced on Thursday that they have signed linebacker Phillip Wheeler to a 1-year contract. The team also released wide receiver Trindon Holliday, and waived offensive guard Fou Fonoti and wide receiver Lance Lewis.
The 49ers hosted Wheeler for a visit a month ago, following visits with linebackers Erin Henderson and Lance Briggs. Wheeler was released by the Miami Dolphins in early March, so he has no impact on the comp pick formula. Wheeler led the Dolphins in tackles in 2013, but graded out incredibly poorly according to Pro Football Focus. A lot of tackles does not guarantee it was a strong performance, but I suppose at least we know he can make tackles from time to time.
Wheeler had signed a 5-year $26 million deal with the Dolphins prior to the 2013 season, but they decided he was not worth the money after only two years. He is not a long-term option for the 49ers, but I do wonder if he provides enough as competition for Michael Wilhoite that the team waits on adding any ILBs in the draft. Again, Wheeler is not necessarily a long term option, but the 49ers might be sufficiently happy with what they have for now.
The Holliday release is interesting given that he could have provided competition as a returner. The 49ers have Bruce Ellington, and signed Jarryd Hayne this offseason. Those two are going to be primary competitors for return work.