49ers draft outlook: Outside linebacker

49ers draft outlook: Outside linebacker
April 29, 2014, 10:00 am
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If the 49ers were so inclined to trade up to land a pass-rusher, Anthony Barr (UCLA) would be a logical choice. (USATSI)

Editor’s note: In the buildup to the NFL Draft (May 8-10) CSNBayArea.com will have content every day, including position breakdowns, retrospectives, mock drafts and more. Bookmark our Road to the NFL Draft and set your DVRs for April 28 at 4:30pm, when the 49ers Draft Preview show debuts on CSN Bay Area.

Aldon Smith was a first-team All-Pro and the 49ers’ team MVP in 2012. Ahmad Brooks has been a second-team All-Pro the past two seasons.

But the 49ers are not completely settled at outside linebacker despite the presence of two of the league’s top players at their positions.

[RELATED: 49ers draft outlook: Cornerbacks]

Smith has encountered a number of off-field issues, and his availability for the upcoming season remains murky. The 49ers expect the NFL to impose some form of suspension.

Last season, the 49ers made it through a five-game stretch while Smith was in treatment for substance abuse with veteran Dan Skuta playing on base downs and rookie Corey Lemonier as the nickel pass-rusher.

The 49ers went 5-0 without Smith, but Skuta and Lemonier combined for just one sack in a combined 570 defensive snaps on the season. Smith collected 8.5 sacks while playing 574 snaps.

Who's here: Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Corey Lemonier, Dan Skuta,

Draft needs: Working under the premise that a team can never have too many pass-rushers, the 49ers can definitely use another player to chase quarterbacks. But it’s also worth considering for the 49ers to seek someone at outside linebacker who is more adept at setting the edge in the run game. Skuta was solid in that role, but he spent most of the season wearing an orthopedic boot on his left foot most of the season during the week. The 49ers might want to consider insurance for their insurance. The 49ers could consider an outside linebacker with any of their picks in the upcoming draft.

Good fits: If the 49ers were so inclined to trade up to land a pass-rusher, Anthony Barr (UCLA) would be a logical choice. He made a successful conversion to outside linebacker under the tutelage of head coach Jim Mora and position coach Jeff Ulbrich in college. The 49ers might be able to remain at No. 30 to select Dee Ford (Auburn). On Day 2, Marcus Smith (Louisville), Kyle Van Noy (BYU), Scott Crichton (Oregon State) and Carl Bradford (Arizona State) are in play. On the third day, the 49ers will give Ben Gardner (Stanford) serious consideration. The 49ers met with co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam (Missouri) at his pro day. General manager Trent Baalke likens Sam to former 49ers outside linebacker Parys Haralson. Sam is a late-round possibility.