SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected inside linebacker Chris Borland of Wisconsin in the third round to select a candidate for the starting job while All-Pro NaVorro Bowman rehabs from a knee injury.
5 foot 11 1/2
Selection: Third round, No. 77 overall
Chosen ahead of . . . WR Donte Moncrief (Mississippi), NT Louis Nix (Notre Dame), CB Phillip Gaines (Rice), TE Richard Rodgers (Cal).
College career: Borland is a four-year starter (44 career starts) with three straight seasons of 100-plus tackles and the Big Ten career record for forced fumbles (15). He was a four-year All-Conference and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year selection in 2013.
Borland forced 15 fumbles in his career to set school and conference records. That figure ranks as second on the all-time NCAA list behind Khalil Mack's 16.
Scouting report: “Borland is the type of player who makes his presence known and never has a quiet game with his nonstop motor, playing with a ton of fight and heart – tough to measure. It’s no coincidence that he’s always around the action with his smarts, instincts and intangibles, which will draw comparisons to retired LB Zach Thomas – both very detailed and understands how to be effective despite the lack of size. Borland plays physical with good short-area quicks, but his lack of elite speed, overall range and length to shed blocks could limit him at the next level – an outstanding college player who projects as a borderline NFL starter with some physical limitations that will be tough to overcome.” – NFLDraftScout.com
How he fits: Borland is short and he does not have the long arms that the 49ers seem to covet, but he is a very productive player. He will compete with Michael Wilhoite for the starting job while NaVorro Bowman is out of the lineup, rehabbing his knee injury. Borland is also expected to be a core special-teams player early in his NFL career.