The San Francisco 49ers learned on Tuesday that linebacker Reuben Foster has been suspended for the first two games of the 2018 season. The suspension is due to a marijuana possession arrest and illegal possession of a weapon. Based on Foster’s statement following the suspension announcement, it’s safe to say he will not appeal.
The question now is what the means for the 49ers linebacker depth chart. Last weekend, I broke down the position’s bubble watch referencing the fact that it awaited word of Foster’s suspension. Well, now we have an answer.
Lock: Reuben Foster, Malcolm Smith, Eli Harold, Fred Warner
Strong Bubble: Dekoda Watson, Korey Toomer, Brock Coyle, Pita Taumoepenu
Weak Bubble: Elijah Lee, Mark Nzeocha
Elijah Lee and Mark Nzeocha are on the outside looking in, but there is a strong chance at least one of them makes the 53-man roster at the end of training camp. The 49ers carried eight or nine linebackers for much of last season. They did close with only seven. Given the team should be healthier at the beginning of the season than the end, maybe it makes sense to only carry seven until Foster gets back?
It’s a tough call at this point, but the real question is who will move into the starting lineup. Malcolm Smith seems all but certain to start at the MIKE position, but who will be the WILL? The team re-signed Brock Coyle, signed Korey Toomer, and drafted Fred Warner. Coyle brings veteran experience with the 49ers, while Toomer has some experience in the kind of defense Robert Saleh has installed. Warner is hopefully the long-term answer next to Reuben Foster, but he has been getting plenty of praise already. Is it enough to claim starting snaps?
Who do you think ends up with the most snaps over the first two weeks next to Malcolm Smith?
Which LB will get the most snaps next to Malcolm Smith in Weeks 1-2?
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