Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Projected Depth Chart:
1. Patrick Willis*
2. NaVorro Bowman**
3. Michael Wilhoite
4. Chris Borland
5. Nick Moody
6. Blake Costanzo
7. Shayne Skov
No need to discuss Patrick Willis!
Now, it's the knee injury suffered by Bowman in last season's NFC Championship Game that will cause some shuffling at inside linebacker. The 49ers have some young talent at the position, but the person to replace Bowman will likely be Wilhoite.
Wilhoite did a fantastic job in the absence of Patrick Willis last season. Granted, it was a small sample, but the veteran linebacker proved to be a great fit with this defense. In my eyes, it's Wilhoite's job to lose.
After drafting Borland in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft, many analysts believed the former Wisconsin product would immediately enter the starting lineup in lieu of Bowman. I really like Borland as a prospect, but it should be tough for him to supplant the more experienced Wilhoite.
Even Borland seems to agree.
"I think it’s his spot [Wilhoite] right now, but I’m going to fight for it,” Borland told the Wisconsin State Journal.
Regardless of what happens in this competition, Borland should still be a solid special teams contributor. The same can be said for Moody, who should also have a chance at claiming a starting spot alongside Willis.
In a somewhat surprising move, the 49ers brought back ace special teams contributor, Costanzo. A few years ago, Costanzo would have been a lock for a roster spot, but the aging linebacker might find himself on the outside looking in this season.
The 49ers just have too much depth at inside linebacker. Even the talented Skov, who was an undrafted free agent, will struggle to make this roster. Though, Skov would be a great practice squad candidate for the upcoming season.