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49ers expected to tender restricted free agent Michael Wilhoite

The San Francisco 49ers appear to be interested in retaining linebacker Michael Wilhoite. What might it mean for the depth chart?

The San Francisco 49ers have three restricted free agents on their roster, and Matt Maiocco is reporting they will tender at least one of them. Maiocco has been told the team is expected to tender inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite. There is no word yet on Ray-Ray Armstrong or Tony Jerod-Eddie.

Maiocco is reporting the tender is expected to be the right of first refusal tender. That is the lowest possible tender, and Maiocco is reporting the 2016 base salary for that tender is expected to be $1,671,000. There are three other tender options, all of which offer the 49ers the right of first refusal. There is an original round tender, which results in compensation of the draft pick for the round in which the player was originally drafted. Wilhoite was originally signed as a UDFA, so this does not apply. The other two options are first round tender, and second round tender. The base salary goes up with each level. Maiocco is reporting the second round tender base salary is expected to be $2,553,000.

Wilhoite started the first 12 games of the season next to NaVorro Bowman. He suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 13, was inactive the next three weeks, and was placed on injured reserve the final week. Gerald Hodges started those final four games.

The 49ers are in a position to completely revamp the inside linebacker position with a single pick. UCLA linebacker Myles Jack has been mocked to the 49ers in a few instances. If the 49ers elected to draft Jack, he would be expected to come right in and start next to Bowman. Of course, even with a new starter added to the inside linebacker depth chart, Wilhoite has proven himself to be a very capable replacement. If the 49ers do draft Jack, I imagine Wilhoite would depart next season as an unrestricted free agent. In the meantime, he and Gerald Hodges will provide strong competition for the role, whether it be a competition between just the two of them, or adding in a new starter.