San Francisco 49ers: How Fleming's Torn ACL Affects Depth at Linebacker
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NFL.com's Ian Rapoport was the first to break the news.
Fleming suffered the injury at the Niners' rookie minicamp this past weekend and needed an MRI to confirm the injury.
Simms did state that no other ligaments outside of the ACL were damaged, but the injury is nonetheless a major setback for Fleming, who San Francisco had drafted with their 165th overall pick in hopes of bolstering an already potent pass rush as an outside linebacker in their 3-4 defense.
Fleming was expected to provide solid depth at the position in 2012, working behind starters Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks.
The hard-hitting, 6'1", 245-pounder out of Notre Dame was also expected to make an immediate impact on the 49ers' already strong special teams unit during the upcoming season.
Luckily, with the progression of Smith (49ers seventh overall selection in 2011) and former starting outside linebacker Parys Haralson on board, the 49ers are not in any worse shape without Fleming than they were a year ago.
The team also found a potential steal in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL draft when OLB Cam Johnson of Virginia fell into their lap with the 237th overall selection.
Johnson, who stands at 6'4", 270 pounds, was projected as a second-round pick by NFL draft guru Mike Mayock, who ranked him 50th overall on his draft board, but Johnson nearly ended up going undrafted due to medical concerns.
Johnson suffers from a sickle cell trait, a disability that several other NFL players have fought through to enjoy successful careers on football's largest stage.
The 49ers did survive with just three linebackers on the outside in 2011, but there was some luck involved in them doing so, considering the team didn't suffer any injuries at the position the entire year.
With Fleming likely gone for the entire 2012 season, there is now an added importance on Johnson making the 53-man roster and providing immediate depth for the upcoming season.
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