The San Francisco 49ers need to find a long-term running mate for linebacker Fred Warner, and they might already have one option on their radar. Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander is free to negotiate a new contract starting Monday at 9 a.m. PT, and Bucs beat writer Rick Stroud is reporting the 49ers are in the mix. Bucs beat writer Jenna Laine is reporting similar potential numbers as Stroud.
#Bucs are bracing to lose WR Adam Humphries and/or LB Kwon Alexander to free agency. Humphries could get $9-million to $10-million APY with Jets as a big suitor. Alexander is being pursued by the Jets and 49ers and seeking an elite deal between $10-million $12-million APY.— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) March 11, 2019
C.J. Mosley will likely top the linebacker market, and could be in the 49ers wheelhouse along with Alexander. Mosley will likely cost more than Alexander, but it’s also a little surprising to see Alexander projected this high. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 7 last year, and while he should be ready for the start of the 2019 season, that’s poor timing for him heading into free agency.
Alexander turns 25 in August, so it makes me wonder if he signs a prove-it deal to get back into the market a year from now while still in the prime of his career. He has never been particularly great in coverage, but in 2017 he was near the top of the league in run stop percentage.
ESPN’s Matt Bowen suggests the Atlanta Falcons are the best scheme fit for him. Given Robert Saleh’s work under Falcons head coach Dan Quinn in Seattle, there is some application of this to the 49ers.
Alexander is coming off an ACL injury, and he could re-sign in Tampa. But he’s only 24 years old, and he has an intriguing skill set to fit in Atlanta as an off-the-ball linebacker. When healthy, Alexander can get sideline to sideline in a hurry. Run and hit. Plus, he will get home as a second-level blitzer. Alexander would be an upgrade for the Falcons, and his speed would add to Atlanta’s sub-package sets.