On Thursday afternoon, I posted my thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers linebackers bubble watch, and in less than 24 hours it is outdated. The 49ers are releasing Ahmad Brooks, and that shakes things up for several players.
In our last bubble watch, I dropped Brooks from lock to strong bubble. That certainly proved at least a little bit prescient. I did not make any other adjustments, leaving Dekoda Watson as strong bubble. Pita Taumoepenu has gotten some SAM reps in practice, but has played exclusively as an edge rusher in the preseason. He remains with the defensive line bubble watch.
The release of Brooks all but guarantees Dekoda Watson will make the roster. He is primarily a special teams player, but now he also appears to be Eli Harold’s backup at SAM. Taumoepenu could very well get a chance to learn the SAM role in the coming season, but for now, it’s the Harold and Watson show.
Brooks was also likely to compete for edge rusher work in the nickel, and so his release opens up an opportunity there as well. When the 49ers go to their nickel defense, Elvis Dumervil and Aaron Lynch are the front-runners for edge work. Taumoepenu will get some opportunities there these final two games, and we could end up seeing Tank on the edge at times as well.