49ers

2019 Senior Bowl: 49ers should keep an eye on these inside linebackers

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USATSI

2019 Senior Bowl: 49ers should keep an eye on these inside linebackers

Coming off a disappointing 4-12 season, the 49ers need to address many positions in the upcoming NFL draft. One that might not be at the top of the list, but is still a priority, is inside linebacker. 

While rookie Fred Warner developed into a very solid addition as the MIKE backer, the team still needs to address the WILL spot that was previously played by Reuben Foster. The team had a few players on rotation in 2018 but still needs to look for a solid replacement. 

Malcolm Smith is under contract until 2021 but spent his first season on injured reserve with a torn pectoral. He was only healthy enough to play in 12 games in 2018, as he dealt with a nagging Achilles injury. 

The inside linebacker class of 2019 is not particularly strong, but there are players that could develop into contributors. There is not one an elite standout, but rather players that would need to carve out a place on a rotational basis and on special teams. Most have a lot to prove at the Senior Bowl. 

Here are the inside linebackers for both squads who are intriguing draft prospects.

SOUTH TEAM

Deshaun Davis, Auburn, 5-11, 246
While he is a little smaller in stature, Davis is known for having high football IQ. He registered 112 tackles in his senior year at Auburn, 57 were solo, 15 were for a loss. He also registered 3.5 sacks. Davis is not the best in coverage but does tackle with aggression. He could have late-round value. 
Projected: Rounds 4-6.

Bobby Okereke, Stanford, 6-3, 234
Okereke has some size to him and is known as a good run defender. He has good lateral speed that could be a nice compliment next to Warner. While he needs to work on his ability to finish tackles, he does have decent coverage skills as a result of his athleticism. 

Okereke registered 94 tackles in his final year in Palo Alto, 52 were solo and 7.5 were for a loss. He also managed 3.5 sacks, five pass breakups, and two forced fumbles. 
Projected: Rounds 4-6.

[RELATED: Wide receiver prospects to watch at the Senior Bowl]

NORTH TEAM

Te’Von Coney, Notre Dame, 6-1, 240
Coney has good size to him and uses it well as a solid tackler. He registered 123 tackles in his final season at Notre Dame, including 9.5 for a loss. He snagged one interception and broke up four passes. 

Coney is stronger in the run game than in coverage but has decent range. He is explosive when hitting and running downhill. 
Projected: Rounds 2-4.

Germaine Pratt, North Carolina State, 6-3, 240 
Previously a safety, Pratt has decent coverage skills and range. He is a solid tackler and could be the most interesting of the group. He registered 104 tackles, 54 of which were solo and 10 for loss. He also had six sacks, three pass breakups, and two forced fumbles.

Pratt would provide later round value but as with most of the inside backers attending the Senior Bowl, they lack the coverage skills and ability to change directions that would make them elite. 
Projected: Rounds 4-6.

49ers' Dee Ford, Jaquiski Tartt listed as day-to-day with injuries

49ers' Dee Ford, Jaquiski Tartt listed as day-to-day with injuries

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers plan to rest defensive end Dee Ford from practice Wednesday and Thursday to give him a better chance to be available to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said Ford and safety Jaquiski Tartt are “day-to-day.” Tartt sustained a toe injury in the 49ers’ 41-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Ford did not play any in the second half of that game.

Ford did not play during the preseason due to knee tendinitis and quad irritation. He aggravated his condition on Sunday but felt as if his condition improved on Wednesday.

“For him to have a setback like he did after missing some camp, there’s always some concern but he is day to day,” Shanahan said.

“We’ll play it safe the next two days, which makes me somewhat optimistic for the game.”

[RELATED: Why Steelers coach Tomlin is impressed by 49ers D-line]

Four other players will not be available Sunday against the Steelers due to injuries: Running back Tevin Coleman (ankle), wide receivers Jalen Hurd (back) and Trent Taylor (foot), and offensive tackle Joe Staley.

Defensive back Jimmie Ward will be limited in practice Wednesday as he works back after undergoing surgery two weeks ago to repair a broken finger.

Source: 49ers 'not in' on Jalen Ramsey trade talks with Jaguars

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USATSI

Source: 49ers 'not in' on Jalen Ramsey trade talks with Jaguars

The 49ers are “not in” on trade activity involving Jacksonville Jaguars two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey, a league source told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday.

The Jaguars are shopping Ramsey, who requested a trade, NFL Network reported Monday. Ramsey, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2016 draft, had a heated sideline confrontation with Jaguars coach Doug Marrone during Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans.

Jaguars general manager David Caldwell reached out to all 31 other NFL teams to gauge the league-wide interest in acquiring Ramsey in a trade, according to a source.

The 49ers likely are not currently active in discussions to acquire Ramsey due to the level of compensation the Jaguars are seeking, as well as the price it would cost to sign Ramsey to a contract extension. Ramsey is scheduled to make $13.7 million in 2020 on the fifth-year option.

The 49ers are projected to be $27 million under the salary cap for the 2020 season, but the club has potential big-money extensions looming for defensive end DeForest Buckner and tight end George Kittle that could account for that cap cushion.

The 49ers do not have a second-round draft pick in 2020 after trading that pick in order to acquire Dee Ford from the Kansas City Chiefs in the offseason.

[RELATED: 49ers' Sherman, Witherspoon erase bad memories in win vs. Bucs]

The 49ers also appear to have better depth at cornerback than they have experienced in a while. Third-year player Ahkello Witherspoon has gotten off to a good start opposite of veteran Richard Sherman. Both players returned interceptions for touchdowns in the 49ers’ Week 1 victory over Tampa Bay.

Moreover, veteran cornerback Jason Verrett is healthy but has not suited up for the 49ers’ first two games as the club went with backups Emmanuel Moseley and D.J. Reed because of the versatility each offers on special teams.