The 49ers will make a run at filling needs at linebacker through free agency, a club source told NBC Sports Bay Area.
The 49ers are expected to pursue such veteran free agents as C.J. Mosley (Baltimore), Anthony Barr (Minnesota) and Kwon Alexander (Tampa Bay), according to the source.
The 49ers on Friday restructured the contract of veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith to keep him on the team’s offseason roster. But the move is not expected to have any impact on the team’s desire to bolster its group of linebackers.
Fred Warner started every game as a rookie at middle linebacker. The 49ers have unsettled starting positions at weakside linebacker and strongside linebacker.
NFL teams are allowed to enter into negotiations with free agents from other teams beginning Monday at 9 a.m. Contracts are not allowed to become official until the signing period begins on Wednesday at 1 p.m. The 49ers enter free agency with approximately $70 million salary cap space.
Alexander, 24, registered more than 90 tackles in each of his first three NFL seasons. In 2016, he had 145 tackles, including 108 solo stoops, along with three sacks and an interception. He entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick from LSU in 2015.
But Alexander is coming off a torn ACL in his left knee, which he sustained on Oct. 21 while blitzing against Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Tampa Bay Times reported the 49ers and New York Jets have interest in Alexander and he is seeking a contract worth from $10 million to $12 million annually.
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Mosley and Barr are also expected to land big-money contracts on the open market. Mosley, an inside linebacker, has been selected to four Pro Bowls in his five NFL seasons. Mosley earned $8.718 million last season while playing on the fifth-year option. He was the No. 17 overall pick in the 2014 draft.
Barr was the No. 9 overall selection in 2014. He is considered a three-down outside linebacker but has recorded just 13.5 sacks in five NFL seasons. Barr earned $12.306 million last season after the Vikings picked up his fifth-year option.