The San Francisco 49ers continued their inside linebacker rotation on Saturday, with Gerald Hodges starting next to NaVorro Bowman. Michael Wilhoite started in Week 1, and it sounds like Ray-Ray Armstrong will start in Week 3. Here is a look at how the Week 2 snaps were split up between the three potential starters. I’ve included their Week 1 snaps in parenthesis.
Gerald Hodges started: 19 (7)
Ray-Ray Armstrong first off bench: 22 (17)
Michael Wilhoite: 34 (25)
All three linebackers have gotten time with Bowman these first two weeks, and then some of them have ended up with more time after Bowman leaves the field. It’s been interesting to see Wilhoite serving as sort of the workhorse. Chip Kelly spoke about the position competition during his Sunday conference call, and his comments about Wilhoite caught my eye in particular.
“I think they all had their pluses. They all have done some really nice things. [LB Gerald Hodges] Hodgy had a fumble recovery and was very productive. [LB] Ray-Ray’s [Armstrong] done a really good job in coverage in some of our dime and our sub-packages. [LB] Mike’s [Wilhoite] just really steady in terms of how he plugs and plays and probably could play both positions behind NaVorro if NaVorro were to be injured and play the WILL. So, they all have their pluses and they’re all doing a good job. So, I think it’s a positive situation for us.”
That comment about plug-and-play reads like he could be viewed as the backup. We can’t read too much into comments at this point, but that’s at least how I read it for now.
Who do you think ends up starting when Week 1 arrives? Normally I’d say the third preseason game would give us the best clue, but given the rotation, it likely won’t. Jim O’Neil meets with the media later this morning, so we’ll keep an eye on his comments.