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Aldon Smith’s absences the past two seasons have played a major role in the 49ers’ decrease in sack production from their outside linebackers.
Smith recorded 33.5 sacks in his first two seasons. He managed just 10.5 sacks the past two years while missing a total of 14 games while seeking treatment for substance abuse in 2013 and serving a nine-game suspension last season.
The 49ers expect Smith for a full season, and they like how the position looks on paper.
“When you look at it, I think a lot of people would like to be in our situation at outside linebacker,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said.
Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Aaron Lynch and Corey Lemonier are the four outside linebackers on the 49ers’ roster. (Chase Thomas sustained a torn ACL and is not expected to be available this season.)
“That’s four pretty good football players right there, so I would think we feel pretty good about it,” Baalke said.
Who’s here: Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Aaron Lynch, Corey Lemonier, Chase Thomas.
Draft needs: Smith enters the final year of his contract. He accepted a restructured contract as a way of setting the table for what he hopes will be a long-term extension, according to his agent Doug Hendrickson. Brooks appeared to be heading out the door after the season, but the 49ers apparently changed their minds due to their need for defensive playmakers and the cap room that was saved with Patrick Willis’ retirement. Lynch might still challenge Brooks for a starting role. With uncertainty surrounding Smith and Brooks for 2016, the 49ers could address this spot now.
Good fits: If the 49ers chose to draft an outside linebacker early, there could be options among pass-rushers Shane Ray (Missouri), Bud Dupree (Kentucky) and Randy Gregory (Nebraska). Lorenzo Mauldin (Louisville) visited the 49ers and could be a third-round option.