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. This afternoon, we take a look at the outside linebackers.
Depth chart: Ahmad Brooks, Aaron Lynch, Eli Harold, Tank Carradine,
Practice squad: Marcus Rush
Injured reserve: None
Ahmad Brooks: 20 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 5.5 pressures, 1 TFL, 3 pass deflections
Eli Harold: 15 tackles, 2.0 pressures, 1 TFL, 1 fumble recovery
Aaron Lynch: 5 tackles, 3.0 pressures, 1.0 sacks, 1 TFL
Tank Carradine: 6 tackles, 1.0 pressures
Where things stand
The outside linebackers are healthy, and have Lynch back from suspension. And yet, not a whole lot of much has come from the group. Ahmad Brooks has had some decent moments. Lynch returned from his suspension and got his first sack in his third game back. Lynch will be the guy to watch coming out of the bye. He’s got three games under his belt and hopefully has shaken off the remaining rust.
Eli Harold and Tank Carradine remain disappointments. Harold is not an awful linebacker, but he is just not an impact player. He seems like a decent rotational option, but not remotely starter-worthy at this point in his career.
And then there’s Tank. He was relegated to solely special teams duty last week. He may eventually move back into the lineup, as we have seen with other linebackers, but it is clear that he is not going to be an impact player in this defense. His best option coming out of college would have been sticking in an edge rusher role in a 4-3, but the 49ers screwed around with him, bulking him way up and then having him drop that weight. His failure to do anything this year falls on him as well, but the whole situation has been a mess from the start.
Marcus Rush remains on the team’s practice squad. He dominated in the pass rush during the preseason, but was pretty bad against the run. I would not be surprised at some point this season to see him promoted to the active roster.
49ers 2017 free agents
The 49ers stand an excellent chance of picking in the top two or three picks next April. Myles Garrett is viewed by some as the best player available. There is some thought that he would be better suited as a 4-3 defensive end as opposed to a 3-4 outside linebacker. That raises a big issue for the OLB position. Will the 49ers stick with their 3-4, or make a change to a 4-3? They play plenty of nickel, so edge rushers have plenty of opportunities, but a change in defense could impact the kinds of players they are looking for at 3-4 outside linebacker vs. 4-3 defensive end.
2017 NFL Draft top 10 prospects
Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
Derek Barnett, Tennessee
Charles Harris, Missouri
Dawuane Smoot, Illinois
Tim Williams, Alabama
Carroll Phillips, Illinois
Demarcus Walker, Florida State
Carl Lawson, Auburn
Ryan Anderson, Alabama
Devonte Fields, Louisville