49ers position-by-position breakdown: Outside linebackers

Matt Maiocco's 49ers Breakdown: Linebackers

49ers position-by-position breakdown: Outside linebackers
July 21, 2013, 11:15 am
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Aldon Smith has 33.5 sacks in his first two seasons, the most in NFL history and the most any 49ers player has recorded in back-to-back seasons. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Editor's note: Insider Matt Maiocco will be providing position-by-position breakdowns each day leading up to 49ers training camp. The rookies reported Friday, with the veterans scheduled to follow on Wednesday. Today, Matt focuses on the outside linebackers.

Who they have: Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Parys Haralson, Corey Lemonier, Dan Skuta, Cam Johnson

Who they lost: Clark Haggans

Looking back: Smith and Brooks, both of whom experienced shoulder injuries late in the season, played virtually every snap as the 49ers kept just three outside linebackers on their roster for most of the season. Smith, who was voted the winner of the Bill Walsh Award for the team MVP, had 19.5 sacks in 13 games. He did not record a sack in his final six games, including playoffs, mostly likely due to his own injury coupled with co-conspirator Justin Smith's partially torn triceps. Brooks had another solid season in his second year as a full-time starer. Brooks was named second-team All-Pro. He also played well in the playoffs, making key plays down the stretch of the NFC Championship game and recording a sack in Super Bowl XLVII.

Overall outlook: Aldon Smith's 33.5 sacks are the most for a player in his first two seasons since the NFL began keeping sack records. It's also the most any 49ers player has recorded in back-to-back seasons in franchise history. Brooks will not face criminal charges for an incident in which he allegedly struck teammate Lamar Divens with a beer bottle. However, Brooks could still face some discipline under the NFL's personal conduct policy. At least the 49ers have more depth at outside linebacker than a year ago to deal with any absence from a starter. Haralson returns to full strength after spending last season on injured reserve with a torn triceps. Coach Jim Harbaugh said he wishes the team had designated Haralson for return because he would have been available for the playoffs. The 49ers moved Skuta to outside linebacker during the offseason program, and they invested a third-round pick on pass-rusher Lemonier.

[RELATED: Meet the Rookies -- Corey Lemonier]

Camp competition: Whereas last year the 49ers kept three outside linebackers on the roster, this year they could keep five. Haralson is the most game-ready outside linebacker behind the starters. Lemonier is not going anywhere. And Skuta was signed as a free agent because of his value on special teams. That leaves Johnson with an uphill climb to earn a roster spot.

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