The San Francisco 49ers have question marks to sort through at linebacker, and so it is no surprise they added some depth in free agency. Middle linebacker Reuben Foster remains away from the team while his domestic violence case continues through the legal process. There is a good chance this will be resolved by the start of training camp, but for the time being he is away from the team.
There was a lot of talk about the 49ers draft plans with regard to linebacker, but before that, they re-signed Brock Coyle to a three-year deal, and signed Korey Toomer to a one-year deal. Toomer’s deal ended up coming in at the league minimum with a moderate signing bonus, and due to his four accrued seasons meant he qualified for the veteran minimum salary benefit.
Toomer was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He spent time with the Seahawks (2012-13), Dallas Cowboys (2014), St. Louis Rams (2014), Oakland Raiders (2015) and San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (2016-17). During his career he has appeared in 46 games (16 starts) and registered 115 tackles, 2.0 sacks, one interception (which he returned for a touchdown), five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and four passes defensed, while adding 14 special teams tackles.
This past season, he played in a career-high 15 games (eight starts) and tallied 46 tackles, 1.0 sack, one interception, two forced fumbles, and three passes defensed. His defensive coordinator last year was Gus Bradley. 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh served as Bradley’s defensive quality control coach in 2011 and 2012 with the Seahawks, and his linebackers coach from 2014 to 2016 with the Jaguars.
At signing, John Lynch said that Toomer, “is a good fit for the ‘stack linebacker’ position” in the 49ers defensive scheme.
Age: 29 (30 on December 9)
Experience: 4 accrued seasons
Weight: 235 pounds
Signed one-year, $790,000 contract this offseason, with a $90,000 signing bonus. His cap figure for 2018 is $630,000 because of the veteran minimum salary benefit.
Why he might improve in 2018
After one year with Bradley, he gets some semblance of continuation in moving to Saleh’s defense. It won’t be identical, but there should be enough cross-over that he can build on last year. Last year represented the biggest opportunity of his career, and with the 49ers facing linebacker question marks, he could get an even bigger opportunity.
Why he might regress in 2018
Toomer is entering his fifth year. He very well might not be much more than a rotational guy who will also contribute on special teams. I don’t know if that is quite regressing, so much as just “it is what it is.”
Odds of making the roster
The addition of Fred Warner was not a vote of confidence in Toomer, although a veteran minimum contract is not exactly a vote of confidence either. I have Toomer listed as strong bubble in the pre-OTA bubble watch. Even if Reuben Foster sees the charges dropped and does not face a suspension, he has raised enough questions that depth is necessary. I would be a bit surprised if the 49ers released Toomer.