Editor’s note: In the lead-up to the NFL draft (May 8-10) bookmark this page to keep tabs on which players the 49ers have had reported contact
During the five-game stretch when Aldon Smith was on his voluntary leave of absence last season, the 49ers did not replace him with just one person.
It was a two-man job with Dan Skuta playing outside linebacker on base downs and Corey Lemonier entering at defensive end as part of the 49ers’ four-man line on nickel downs.
And that leads to our question of the day via Facebook:
How confident are the 49ers in Skuta and Lemonier to step up and take on more responsibilities? (Jan Schimpchen)
The 49ers are expecting the standard second-year improvement from Lemonier. And Skuta proved to be effective on base downs. During the time the 49ers replaced Smith with Skutonier, the team got 37 tackles and one sack from that position.
But, still, expect the 49ers to add some more depth at outside linebacker/defensive end. The 49ers will address that position with at least one of their scheduled 11 draft picks in the May 8-10 draft.
Due to the uncertainty surrounding Smith’s future, outside linebacker/defensive end ranks with cornerback and wide receiver among the 49ers’ Top 3 draft needs. The 49ers expect the NFL to impose a suspension of unknown length on Smith due to his off-field problems.
The 49ers can also be expected to turn to Tank Carradine to help compensate for the expected Smith absence. Carradine will be available to play defensive end to rush the passer in nickel situations, too.