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Are there any free agent linebackers the 49ers should take a look at?

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Position by position, we’re going to look at the free agents and see if there’s anyone you’d want to throw some money at.

So another disclaimer, we definitely can look at some of these linebackers as edge rushers, which in theory would make them defensive ends in the San Francisco 49ers 4-3 scheme. I’ve decided against this mostly to avoid ballooning spreadsheets and avoiding confusion. Jadeveon Clowney is a great example. He’s a 3-4 linebacker, but if he came to the 49ers he’d be going after the quarterback.

To make this easier, the table is sortable, so you can swap between the various types of linebackers.

But let’s start with Clowney. The Houston Texans linebacker is coming off his rookie deal and is one of the bigger names to hit free agency—if he gets that far. Clowney has said he wants to return to the Texans and it looks like the Texans may slap him with the franchise tag for 2019. I will be very surprised if we see Clowney anywhere but the Texans in 2019.

Then there’s Dee Ford from the Kansas City Chiefs. You know him best for doing this in the 2018 AFC Championship game. Ford would be coming from a 3-4 and again be playing on the end, but he’d be a solid addition, provided he lines up away from the line of scrimmage. Ford has been very vocal about wanting to stay in KC, and has even been open to being franchised. He’s another one to not get your hopes up on coming to Santa Clara.

So let’s look at who’s left. Green Bay Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews is available. The Packers have a knack for taking care of their own and Matthews is a prior draft pick. That said, Matthews, who will be 33 years old, didn’t have a stellar 2018 and the Packers have some decisions to make with their salary cap. I don’t see him returning to the Packers unless he takes a pay cut in his new extension. Being a 3-4 linebacker, I’m not sure how he’d fit in a 4-3 when he’s played in a 3-4 his entire career.

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Dante Fowler and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs are both available. Suggs will be 37, though he hints he’s not a fan of retiring. Fowler just got traded to the Rams during the 2018 season, if he gets an extension is anyone’s guess.

If you’re wanting someone play more inside next to Fred Warner, my personal favorite is Cory Littleton who is finishing up with the Los Angeles Rams. Littleton is young, and had a great 2018. There’s also C.J. Mosley with the Ravens. Mosley had a step back for 2018, which may make him come cheaper if the Ravens decide not to re-up his contract. He has shown his potential before and is worth a look. With the loss of Reuben Foster, the 49rs would be wise to get some veteran presence (and competition for that matter) with Warner.

You also can see that Brian Orakpo is there. He’s retiring, so don’t get your hopes up that the 49ers could put a flier on him.

Aaron Lynch is also available to return from the Bears. If the 49ers want to give him another shot is an entirely different question. He signed a one-year deal with Chicago.

Any way you look at it, linebackers are thin. At least the ones that could work in the 49ers system that aren’t going to be gobbled up with extensions before free agency starts. Here’s the list of them per Over the Cap. Keep in mind that some of these linebackers also line up as edge rushers depending on the system they play in. That’s something to keep in mind. Things could change with franchise tags and deals, but all of the below have contracts expiring. Would you be interested in any of these guys coming to Santa Clara?

Free Agent Linebackers

Name Position Team Age
Name Position Team Age
Clay Matthews 34OLB Packers 33
Brian Orakpo 34OLB Titans 33
Jadeveon Clowney 34OLB Texans 26
Thomas Davis 43OLB Panthers 36
K.J. Wright 43OLB Seahawks 30
Derrick Morgan 34OLB Titans 30
Dante Fowler, Jr. 34OLB Rams 25
Terrell Suggs 34OLB Ravens 37
Preston Brown ILB Bengals 27
Aaron Lynch 34OLB Bears 26
Vincent Rey 43OLB Bengals 32
Anthony Barr 43OLB Vikings 27
Shaquil Barrett 34OLB Broncos 27
Manti Te'o ILB Saints 28
Ryan Shazier ILB Steelers 27
Shane Ray 34OLB Broncos 26
C.J. Mosley ILB Ravens 27
Dee Ford 34OLB Chiefs 28
Stephone Anthony 43OLB Dolphins 27
Deone Bucannon 43OLB Cardinals 27
Anthony Chickillo 34OLB Steelers 27
Josh Martin 34OLB Jets 28
Pernell McPhee 34OLB Washington 31
Matt Longacre 34OLB Rams 28
Craig Robertson 43OLB Saints 31
Brandon Copeland 34OLB Jets 28
Preston Smith 34OLB Washington 27
Will Compton ILB Titans 30
Jeremiah Attaochu 34OLB Jets 26
Denzel Perryman ILB Chargers 26
Nate Palmer ILB Titans 30
Adarius Taylor ILB Buccaneers 29
Nathan Stupar 43OLB Giants 31
Ray-Ray Armstrong ILB Browns 28
Frank Zombo 34OLB Chiefs 32
Ramon Humber 43OLB Patriots 32
Brian Peters ILB Texans 31
Emmanuel Lamur ILB Jets 30
Paul Worrilow 43OLB Eagles 29
LaRoy Reynolds 43OLB Eagles 29
Ben Jacobs 43OLB Panthers 31
Mark Nzeocha 43OLB 49ers 29
Albert McClellan ILB Patriots 33
Najee Goode 43OLB Colts 30
Kelvin Sheppard ILB Lions 31
Bruce Carter ILB Falcons 31
Mychal Kendricks 43OLB Seahawks 29
Kevin Minter ILB Buccaneers 29
Gerald Hodges 43OLB Cardinals 28
Eli Harold 43OLB Lions 25
Ramik Wilson ILB Rams 27
Jordan Hicks ILB Eagles 27
Neville Hewitt ILB Jets 26
Josh Keyes ILB Texans 26
Cameron Lynch 43OLB Buccaneers 26
Mike Hull ILB Dolphins 28
Ben Heeney ILB Texans 27
Hayes Pullard ILB Chargers 27
Za'Darius Smith 34OLB Ravens 26
Kwon Alexander ILB Buccaneers 25
Damien Wilson 43OLB Cowboys 26
Jake Ryan ILB Packers 27
Deiontrez Mount 34OLB Broncos 26
L.J. Fort ILB Steelers 29
Zach Vigil ILB Washington 28
Patrick Onwuasor ILB Ravens 27
Terrance Smith ILB Chiefs 26
Kyle Emanuel 43OLB Chargers 28
DJ Alexander ILB Eagles 28
David Mayo ILB Panthers 26
Bryce Hager ILB Rams 27
Justin March-Lillard 43OLB Cowboys 26
Jeremy Cash ILB Cardinals 27
Gabe Martin 43OLB Cardinals 27
Manase Hungalu 43OLB Jaguars 24
Joseph Jones ILB Broncos 25
Jerrol Garcia-Williams 34OLB Broncos 26
Vince Biegel ILB Saints 26
Jordan Williams 34OLB Giants 26
Devante Bond 43OLB Buccaneers 26
Jared Norris 43OLB Panthers 26
Brennan Scarlett 34OLB Texans 26
Cory Littleton ILB Rams 26
Elijah Lee 43OLB 49ers 23
Steve Longa 43OLB Lions 25
Isaiah Irving 34OLB Bears 25
Deon Lacey 43OLB Bills 29
Anthony Wint ILB Jets 24
Emmanuel Ellerbee 43OLB Seahawks 23
Jason Cabinda ILB Raiders 23
Frankie Luvu 34OLB Jets 23
Keith Kelsey ILB Steelers 24
Garrett Sickels 34OLB Rams 25
Austin Calitro ILB Seahawks 25
Reggie Gilbert 34OLB Packers 26
Tyrone Holmes 34OLB Chargers 26