Outside linebacker Corey Lemonier, a third-round pick last year, lost his job after three weeks this season as the team’s nickel pass-rush specialist.
And he will probably not be among the team’s active game-day 46 when the NFL reinstates Aldon Smith, which could happen as early as Monday if the league determines his behavior has been good enough during his suspension to warrant a reduction of his original nine-game suspension.
With the NFL trade deadline approaching on Tuesday, Lemonier becomes the most likely trade possibility for the 49ers, according to a source.
There’s no role for Lemonier, who would become the team’s fifth outside linebacker behind Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Aaron Lynch and Dan Skuta. And he's young enough that there could be some interest around the NFL if he were available.
The 49ers would be dealing a position of strength. A year ago, the 49ers traded outside linebackers Parys Haralson and Cam Johnson prior to the start of the regular season. And in the coming weeks, the 49ers will be looking to clear multiple roster spots for some players to be added to the 53-man roster.
Obviously, the 49ers would rather trade a player and get a late-round draft pick instead of waiving a player and getting nothing in return.
Aldon Smith will be the first player to return. Running back Marcus Lattimore is expected to be on the 53-man roster for the Nov. 23 game against Washington.
Nose tackle Glenn Dorsey and inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman are also expected to return before the end of the regular season.
The 49ers are deep on the defensive line, which could make Tony Jerod-Eddie and/or Demarcus Dobbs subject to trade discussions, too.