Here are the facts as we understand them.
Until Bowman returns to the field,
And, according to San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, this second 'backer could be one of four men.
“We’ve got any type of possibility that can happen there," Fangio said. "We’re playing Willis at MIKE now and Wilhoite’s playing JACK. If somebody surfaces to give us a better combination of putting Willis back at JACK and somebody else at MIKE, whether it’d be (Chris) Borland, (Michael) Wilhoite, (Shayne) Skov... (Nick) Moody is in the mix there, too."
Here's what Fangio had to say about the four contenders.
“It’s a possibility (that he could play linebacker in nickel situations). But like all the other guys, he’s got to become accountable and know what to do.
"It could be a combination just like we did when Aldon (Smith) was out last year: [LB Dan] Skuta played in one package, and [LB Corey] Lemonier played in another. Whether it’d be an inside linebacker playing in base and one playing in the nickel that are two different guys... All possibilities are open.”
“He is (learning both MIKE and JACK positions), but mainly focusing on the MIKE. But he is learning both and getting some reps at both.
“Without seeing him a whole lot more, I think that’s what he’s more suited for at this point. You know, it’s basically what he played in college. And I think it might be a position that’s suits him the best, but I’m not sure of that yet. Basically, when I look at insider linebackers, me personally, if you’re an inside linebacker you’re an inside linebacker. You’re an off-the-ball linebacker, in comparison with our outside linebackers who are on-the-ball linebackers. So if you’re an off-the-ball linebacker, you can play either spot. Now, there are different assignments and techniques that go into each position, and one position has more of a load in one assignment than the other and vice versa. So you try and narrow it down, but they should be able to play both.”
“Well, his injury (at Stanford) that he had that you alluded to was a very serious injury. I think it still affects him a little bit, but he’s also grown as a player in those three years... Yes, his knee is still a hindrance to him a little bit, but he’s grown as a player also.”