The San Francisco 49ers are in their bye week after playing seven games on their 2016 regular season schedule. Well, I can just call it their 2016 schedule, because there will not be any playoffs this year. Whatever the case, the team is just under halfway through their schedule, so the timing of the bye works for providing some midseason thoughts on the roster.
The team has a ton of question marks heading into the second half of the season, and the potential of a new general manager after the season means roster predictions are tough to assess. That being said, I thought we’d look at each position group and consider where it currently stands, who the teams own free agents are next year, and what the draft class looks like. Today, we take a look at the inside linebackers.
Depth chart: Michael Wilhoite, Nick Bellore, Gerald Hodges, Shayne Skov
Practice squad: Curtis Grant
Injured reserve: NaVorro Bowman, Ray-Ray Armstrong
Nick Bellore: 37 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 pass deflections, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
NaVorro Bowman: 35 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 3 TFL, 2 pass deflections, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble
Gerald Hodges: 29 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 1 pass deflection, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Michael Wilhoite: 28 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 pass deflection
Ray-Ray Armstrong: 8 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 pass deflections, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery
Shayne Skov: 4 tackles
Where things stand
What a disaster this unit has been. And considering the state of this team, that’s saying something. Bowman was lost to a torn Achilles. Prior to that, Armstrong was lost to a torn pectoral muscle. Armstrong was part of a preseason rotation with Wilhoite and Hodges, but Armstrong appeared to be the guy set to emerge from the group.
Now, we’re left with Wilhoite, Hodges, and a special teamer in Bellore trying to make up for the absences. I thought Hodges would be the guy to emerge, but none of the three has impressed. They are capable options, but it would appear strictly as reserves and special teamers. When they are starting for you, things are in a bad way.
49ers 2017 free agents
Ray Ray Armstrong
Shayne Skov (Exclusive Rights)
Bowman is signed long term, but everybody else can depart. This position is one that gets interesting if the 49ers decide to make a switch to a 4-3. That is not necessarily going to happen, but everything is on the table if they blow this thing up. It changes what you are looking for in your outside linebackers and defensive ends, to go along with having he main middle linebacker. But whether the 49ers go to a 4-3 or stay with a 3-4, they need talented fresh blood added to this group.
2017 NFL Draft top 10 prospects
Reuben Foster, Alabama
Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
Anthony Walker, Jr., Northwestern
Azeem Victor, Washington
Kendell Beckwith, LSU
Keith Kelsey, Louisville
Hardy Nickerson, Illinois
Riley Bullough, Michigan State
Tanner Vallejo, Boise State
Connor Harris, Lindenwood