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Inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite stepped in for Patrick Willis for two games last season and worked alongside NaVorro Bowman.
The 49ers return all four inside linebackers from the team’s 53-man roster last season, but the team was known to be asking around about the availability of inside linebackers at the NFL owners meetings.
Bowman is rehabbing his left knee from ACL surgery. And while the 49ers expect him to make a full recovery, one source says there is "no way” the 49ers will clear him to play in the opening week of the season. If Bowman begins the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list, he would be eligible to join the 49ers in Week 7.
Who's here: Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Michael Wilhoite, Nick Moody, Darius Fleming
Draft needs: There’s nothing wrong with Wilhoite, but the 49ers will look to bring in some competition to determine who earns the right to line up next to Willis in the 49ers’ defense during the time Bowman is sidelined. Anyone the 49ers select would have to be viewed as a core special-teams player. The 49ers figure to keep Willis and Bowman together for the foreseeable future, so it might be awhile before another inside linebacker gets an opportunity to become more than just a stopgap measure.
Good fits: How early is too early to select an inside linebacker when Willis and Bowman figure to be around for a while? Late in the third round is a possibility and the 49ers should have no problem finding candidates at that juncture in the draft. Shayne Skov (Stanford) has gone through only limited workouts due to a hamstring injury, so that remains to be seen how it might impact his draft stock. The 49ers brought in Preston Brown (Louisville) for a visit, and general manager Trent Baalke spent considerable some time with Christian Jones (Florida State) at his pro day.