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NFL free agency rumors: 49ers might be in the Dont’a Hightower mix

The 49ers could use some help at linebacker, and Dont’a Hightower would certainly be a strong addition.

The San Francisco 49ers signed linebacker Malcolm Smith on Thursday, and they might not be done adding to their linebacker corps. ESPN’s Ed Werder tweeted on Friday suggesting the 49ers might be in the mix for New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower. He did not say for certain, but offered this maybe:

The 49ers have NaVorro Bowman in the middle linebacker role, and it would appear Malcolm Smith will play on the weak side. Ahmad Brooks would seem to be a fit for the bigger SAM role, but if the 49ers signed Hightower he would likely plug in there immediately. In turn, the 49ers would either release Brooks or have him compete for the Leo role.

Hightower has been a big part of the Patriots defense through his first five seasons. I chatted with our friends at Pats Pulpit, and they said he has played 3-4 ILB, 3-4 OLB, 4-3 MLB, 4-3 SAM, and 4-3 DE. It’s safe to say the 49ers could find some ways to use him in the SAM and on the edge.