The 49ers this week signed a pair of inside linebackers to, perhaps, take the roster spots that opened with the departures of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland.
Nick Bellore, 25, who spent his first four NFL seasons with the New York Jets, is fully expected to win a spot on the 49ers’ 53-man roster after signing a two-year contract on Friday. Bellore earned a spot last season on Pro Football Focus’ Special Teams All-Pro team. He figures to be one of the 49ers' core special-teams contributors.
[RELATED: 49ers sign LB Nick Bellore to two-year deal]
Bellore joins new 49ers special-teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, who spent last season with the Jets before getting hired to Jim Tomsula’s new staff. Bellore has limited experience on defense while playing all 64 games in four seasons, but he could immediately become the team’s top tackler on kickoff and punt coverage.
Veteran Desmond Bishop, 30, this week signed a one-year, $870,000 contract with the 49ers and will compete for a roster spot. He started 25 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2010 and ’11, but injuries kept him mostly sidelined ever since. Bishop tore his hamstring in 2012 and sustained a torn knee ligament in 2013.
[RELATED: 49ers re-sign Desmond Bishop]
Bishop signed with the 49ers late last season and saw action in the final two games of the season with Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Borland on injured reserve. Willis announced his retirement after eight NFL seasons on March 10, and Borland unexpectedly decided to step away from football after one professional season the following week.
Michael Wilhoite, who started all 16 games last season, is the front-runner to line up next to Bowman in the 49ers’ base defense. Nick Moody and Shayne Skov also head into the 49ers’ offseason program, which begins Tuesday, fighting for roles on the team.