UPDATE (3:27pm PT on Tuesday): The 49ers announced that they have signed linebacker Ben Boulware to their practice squad.
The 49ers are expected to have the two top college linebackers from a year ago within the organization by the end of the day on Tuesday.
Former Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware is visiting the 49ers on Tuesday. If Boulware passes a physical, the expectation is he will sign to fill out the 49ers’ 10-man practice squad, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area.
Boulware was named the winner of the 2016 Jack Lambert Award as college football’s top linebacker.
The Dick Butkus Award, which another organization gives to the top collegiate linebacker, went to former Alabama star Reuben Foster.
The 49ers selected Foster with the No. 31 overall pick in the draft, and he will be in the starting lineup, alongside NaVorro Bowman, when the 49ers open the regular season on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
Boulware, 23, was a member of the Panthers until Saturday, when they released him in order to make their cuts to a 53-player roster. Boulware originally signed with Carolina as an undrafted rookie.
Boulware (6 foot, 238 pounds) went undrafted, mostly likely, due to his lack of speed. He was clocked at 4.85 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day. At the NFL Scouting Combine before the draft, Boulware expressed confidence in his ability to be a productive NFL player despite his measurables.
“I have all the qualities to make a great linebacker and I’m very confident in that, I’m very confident in my tape,” Boulware said. “That’s why I tell everybody, ‘Just watch the tape.’ That’s all I really have to say.”
Boulware was a two-year starter at Clemson, recording 197 tackles during that time with 19 tackles for loss, seven sacks and three interceptions. He had five interceptions in his four-year career.
He was named defensive MVP of Clemson’s 35-31 victory over Alabama in the national championship game.
Boulware's likely signing with the 49ers was first reported by TigerNet.com, which covers Clemson athletics.
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The signing of Boulware completes the 49ers’ 10-player practice squad to open the regular season:
LB Ben Boulware (Clemson)
WR DeAndre Carter (Sacramento State)
OL John Flynn (Montana State)
TE Cole Hikutini (Louisville)
CB Asa Jackson (Cal Poly SLO)
RB Jeremy McNichols (Boise State)
QB Nick Mullens (Southern Mississippi)
DL Noble Nwachukwu (West Virginia)
WR DeAndre Smelter (Georgia Tech)
OL Darrell Williams Jr. (Western Kentucky)