General manager Trent Baalke recently stated he believes 49ers linebacker Michael Wilhoite can be a starter in the NFL. But he will not likely get that chance with the 49ers again this season.
With Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman expected to reclaim their starting jobs with the 49ers this season after returning from injuries, Wilhoite and Chris Borland are expected to be pushed down the depth chart.
The 49ers are attempting to trade Wilhoite for a late-round draft pick, the Sacramento Bee reported on Wednesday.
Wilhoite is unsigned for the upcoming season. He is scheduled to be an exclusive rights free agent. As a two-year veteran, he remains the property of the 49ers, as long as they make him a qualifying offer. The 49ers can tender him as an EFA, then trade his rights. If he returns to the 49ers, Wilhoite would likely be among the team’s top special-teams players.
The 49ers ranked as the No. 5 defense in the NFL last season with Wilhoite starting all 16 games in place of Bowman, who was out the entire season. Wilhoite tied for second on the team, according to the coaches’ film review, with 121 tackles.
“Michael Wilhoite played a very critical role for us, and proved he has starter caliber ability in the National Football League,” Baalke said recently at the NFL Scouting Combine. “You have four players who can go in and play good football and win football games.”