The San Francisco 49ers would hope to have Kwon Alexander and Fred Warner holding down the linebacker positions, but they are going to need some people in case of catastrophe and that’s where David Mayo comes into play. The four-year vet comes from the Carolina Panthers where he managed to stay healthy and start in a few games. In the last two years, Mayo has started in four games, and played both full 16-game seasons. Most of these games were on special teams and one would guess that’s why he’s with the 49ers.
He comes cheap, but his salary is somewhat guaranteed for 2019, so the 49ers are expecting him to get a roster spot. The thing to keep in mind there are restructured contracts (Malcolm Smith) and draft picks (Dre Greenlaw) also looking for a spot. The 49ers kept six linebackers to start 2018 and there’s little to think that would change.
So that’s Mayo, decent depth, good special teams, not much else. He finished 2018 with one pass defended, and eight tackles. It’s nothing earth shattering, but hopefully not much is asked of him during the season.
Age: 25 (turns 26 on August 8)
Experience: 5th season
He has signed a two-year deal with the 49ers. His first year comes with a cap hit of $1.25 million. If cut in 2019, the 49ers would eat $1,100,000 in dead money.
What to expect in 2019
Mayo will be asked to come in on special teams and also fill in at linebacker to give the starters a break or when someone goes down. This was his calling card in Carolina and as a backup, he’s fine at holding down the fort. The real reason Mayo could get the roster nod is special teams value. He played 326 special teams snaps for Carolina in 2018 and that sounds about right for the 49ers in 2019. Outside of special teams, he’ll be rotated in to give the linebackers a rest.
Odds of making the roster
Given that his salary and roster bonus are guaranteed, Mayo very well could be on the team after cuts as the final linebacker on the squad. At the same time, it’s only a million, so it’s not like it’s crippling the 49ers to release him.
The 49ers linebackers will most likely consist of Kwon Alexander, Fred Warner, Elijah Lee, David Mayo, Dre Greenlaw, and Malcolm Smith. Smith could lose that final roster spot to Mark Nzeocha, but I don’t see the 49ers having seven linebackers. They carried six in 2018 and it reasons to think they’ll follow that path in 2019.
Mayo has proven himself a great special teams player and some decent depth for the linebacking position. It will be interesting to see how this competition shakes out given the homegrown prospects and Alexander’s free agency acquisition. Mayo is on a strong bubble to make the roster for special teams alone.