Wow. The shocks were supposed to be over after the whole February incident in which Foster was ultimately accused of domestic violence against then girlfriend Elissa Ennis. The result shocked us more than the initial crisis, as Ennis wound up recanting her story and admitting she “lied” about the entire incident. And yet, here we are again.
Without going into detail, obviously there is a hole at linebacker. Foster’s spot will not be easy to fill, but there will be plenty options to plug that position via draft, free agency, or a possible trade.
First, let’s roll into some of our draft options when the draft comes in April. There are no clear-cut linebackers that project to go with the 49ers’ possible first overall pick, but here are some of their options:
Devin White, LSU
Arguably the best off-ball linebacker in a relatively thin class, Devin White would be a phenomenal addition to a 49ers defense that could use another signal caller alongside rookie stud Fred Warner. The junior LB has 115 total tackles this season, 54 of which are solo and 12 for loss, to go along with 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. A prospect who many already consider the best in the class, his impact would likely be instantaneous on defense. Although fans and media members SCREAM for Lynch to take an edge prospect, given how deep the edge position is in this class, White would fill an unfortunate hole on a defense where there were already many before Foster’s release. White projects to be an early-mid day one draft pick.
Mack Wilson, Alabama
Too soon? Although Lynch and co. swung and missed on their previous Bama LB (Foster), Wilson looks to be a clean and well-polished MLB. Although he may be of a slightly lower tier than Devin White is, Wilson is nonetheless another athletic and rangy LB that would fit well into a 49ers D that needs more athleticism and playmakers. The junior signal caller for Bama has 57 total tackles, 28 solo and 4 for loss, to go along with 1 sack and 2 interceptions. Hailing from an Alabama team that seems to churn out defensive prospects, Wilson projects to be an early second rounder, but could climb into the first round come draft day. If the 49ers look to add any draft picks in the offseason, they would need to make moves soon considering the team only has 5 draft picks.
Tre Lamar, Clemson
See a trend? All these colleges constantly produce defensive talent year after year, and it’s no different this year for Clemson. Overshadowed behind a star-studded defensive line, Tre Lamar is having a quietly good campaign for the Clemson Tigers. The junior has 59 total tackles this season, 29 solo and 4 of them for loss, to go with 2 sacks and 1 interception. The young LB has shown relative consistency over the past two seasons, compiling almost identical statistics. Lamar projects to be a second or third round draft pick. If the 49ers do not address linebacker in FA, Lamar could very well be on there radar come draft day.
Germaine Pratt, N.C. State
An overlooked prospect out of N.C. State, Pratt fits the profile of a run-stopping linebacker that has sneaky athleticism that could get him taken higher than expected. Pratt is a converted safety-turned-linebacker that has flashed not only run stopping skills, but coverage skills too. Built like a run-thumping linebacker, Pratt has 98 total tackles this season, 53 of which are solo and 10 for loss, followed with 6 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Pratt, a senior, projects to be taken later on day two, in the third or fourth round. With the loss of Foster, the 49ers could use another thumper to go alongside Fred Warner, and Pratt could very well be that guy. Lynch chose Kentavius Street last season, who also went to N.C. State; could Lynch go back to this college and draft another overlooked player? Considering Pratt was a safety, and knowing Lynch loves to take guys who play multiple positions, Pratt could be that draft crush Lynch falls for.