The San Francisco 49ers are in a bit of a pickle as they try and figure out another aspect of their depth chart. Ahmad Brooks was charged with misdemeanor sexual battery, and returned to California this past week to deal with his legal issue. In his absence, the 49ers started Eli Harold and Corey Lemonier at outside linebacker, with Aaron Lynch the first OLB off the bench.
More than likely, Harold and Lemonier are competing to hold down Brooks's role opposite Lynch. In getting charged with the crime, Brooks faces potential action from the NFL. A league spokesman told Matt Maiocco that the NFL is still trying to determine whether or not to put him on "paid administrative leave".
That term likely means the Commissioner's Exempt list. When a player is facing some kind of issue, the league can place him on that list, and effectively put him on paid leave. We've seen it used with Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy over the last year. Brooks's case is probably not going to wrap up particularly quickly, let alone by Week 1, so this is an alternative until the league imposes some form of discipline.
If Brooks ends up on that list, he will not count against the 49ers 53-man roster. I believe the 49ers only other option under the NFL's conduct policy would be to keep him on the roster and leave him inactive on game days. Trent Baalke said the team is reviewing the issue, but has not made a particular decision at this point.
My guess is Brooks ends up on the Commissioner's Exempt list, but I honestly don't know how quickly it might happen. This could leave the 49ers in a situation where they have to keep him on the 53-man roster, but will not be playing him initially. The whole situation is going to take some time to sort out in the meantime.