The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers will open training camp at the end of the month. But before the pads come on and the competition for 53 coveted roster spots begin, 49ers.com will preview the storylines to track for each position group on the team. San Francisco’s elite linebackers come into focus next in our “49ers Camp Preview” series.
The 49ers have the most complete set of starting linebackers in the National Football League. In fact, three of the starting four were selected as first-team All-Pros and to the 2013 Pro Bowl. Led by inside linebackers
Willis made his sixth career Pro Bowl, becoming the 17th player in league history to make six consecutive Pro Bowl appearances to start a career. Bowman posted a career-high 183 tackles in his third-year with the club and earned a five-year contract extension through the 2018 season. Bowman solidified his reputation shortly after by breaking up a fourth-down pass in the NFC Championship game to ensure San Francisco’s sixth NFC title in franchise history.
The 49ers added depth to an already established linebacker crew in free agency and in the 2013 NFL Draft. One week into the free agency frenzy, San Francisco signed Skuta, a veteran linebacker capable of playing all four linebacker spots in addition to being a respected special teams contributor. Likewise, Wilhoite, a late-season call up from the practice squad, brings depth to the inside linebacker position and proven coverage ability on special teams. On the outside, the 49ers will benefit from the return of Haralson, the longest tenured 49ers linebacker who is fully healthy from a season-ending triceps injury suffered in the 2012 preseason. The club also selected Lemonier and Moody to bolster the outside linebacker group and special teams coverage units, respectively. Lastly, the team has been pleased by the development of second-year players, Fleming and Johnson. Both will look to move up the depth chart in training camp.
The 49ers allowed just nine touchdowns at home last season, ranking tied for first in the NFL.
“For the first time, I really feel like mentally and physically I’m in the best shape I’ve been in since I was a rookie. Mentally, I feel like I’m in a place I’ve never been before.”
-Willis on his mental and physical state heading into year seven with the 49ers.
- READ: Willis 'Hungry to be Better'
- READ: Bowman Ready for 2013
- READ: Smith Builds on Experience
- READ: Haralson Determined to Bounce Back
- READ: Skuta Learns OLB Position
- READ: Lemonier Makes OLB Conversion
- READ: Moody Seeks Special Teams Role
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