The Los Angeles Rams were busy with the Friday afternoon news dump, as word got out that they have released defensive end Chris Long, linebacker James Laurinaitis, and tight end Jared Cook. The moves clear $23 million in cap space for a team that is continuing to get younger on defense.
Naturally, people are wondering whether the 49ers should take a look at either of the two defensive players. Laurinaitis played middle linebacker, while Long was a pass rushing defensive end. Both could likely be had for a fairly decent price, and would provide veteran leadership to a defense that has had to get younger at a lot of positions due to roster turnover.
Gerald Hodges and Michael Wilhoite are the two primary options at inside linebacker next to NaVorro Bowman. Draft prospects Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith have been mentioned as possibilities, but the team could still roll with Hodges or Wilhoite for another year.
Long played in the Rams 4-3 front, but given that the 49ers have used nickel extensively in recent years, there would be plenty of room for him if the team decided to add some veteran depth. Arik Armstead will look to get more opportunities in 2016, and Tank Carradine will be trying to figure something out with his career. Aaron Lynch and Ahmad Brooks get time at the end positions when the 49ers go to the nickel, but we don't know Brooks' future, and more importantly, you can never have too many pass rushers. Long is getting a bit long in the tooth, but it might be worth at least kicking the tires.