Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks have been impressive outside linebackers for the last three seasons, but the position is not settled all the way. Even though the 49ers have taken outside linebackers in the last three drafts, any team can never have enough pass rushers on their roster.
Smith has also been dealing with legal troubles where his longterm future is still uncertain. The 49ers and fans alike expect some type of suspension to begin the 2014 season.
The 49ers won five consecutive games without Smith before he returned in Week 10. They rotated both Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier as the OLB to play on the opposite side of Brooks in that span. From a pass rushing standpoint, both players only combined for one sack in 2014 while Smith had 8.5 sacks.
Finishing the depth chart is LB Darius Fleming, who was drafted as an OLB and has been learning both linebacker positions. He has missed both the 2012 and 2013 seasons with a torn ACL in back to back years.
Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State) 6-3, 251 pounds: While Lawrence is listed as a DE, the position he played in college, he has a similar mold to Lemonier where he should transition to playing OLB at the NFL level. He's an explosive pass rushing specialist who was brought in for a visit in Santa Clara. Lawrence is projected to be a first or second round pick.
Aaron Lynch (South Florida) 6-4, 249 pounds: Like Lawrence, Lynch was a DE in college, but would better fit the bill as an outside linebacker in the NFL. His stock lowered after a poor pro day, but he was the second potential OLB who came in for a visit with the 49ers. He is an athletic player who lacks the size of a defensive lineman, but could be a solid pass rusher. Lynch is projected to be a late-round draft pick.
Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech) 6-3, 252 pounds: Attaochu has impressive speed for an OLB and possesses strong awareness on the field. He needs to hit the weight room, but he would be the most experienced outside linebacker of this group. Attaochu is projected to be a second or third-round draft pick.
Marcus Smith (Louisville) 6-3, 251 pounds: Smith would bring immediate competition for Lemonier and Skuta with his pass rushing abililtes. He would need to convert to OLB after playing on the defensive line in college, but he has impressive agility. Smith is projected to be a mid-round draft pick.
Trent Murphy (Stanford) 6-5, 250 pounds: Murphy has a high football IQ knowledge of the game with strong instincts. He lacks the strength and would need to hit the weight room, but could develop into a starting LB in the future. The Stanford LB played under Jim Harbaugh for two seasons with 2009 being his redshirt year. The 49ers still have yet to draft a Stanford player in the Jim Harbaugh era. Murphy is projected to be a second or third round draft pick.
Kyle Van Noy (BYU) 6-3, 243 pounds: Van Noy would be a part-time pass rusher in third down situations. He's a quick linebacker who has the athleticism to impress in the NFL, but would need to work on his instincts. Van Noy is projected to be a third or fourth-round draft pick.
Nate Askew (Texas A&M) 6-3, 241 pounds: Askew had some impressive Pro Day numbers (4.5 second 40-yard dash, 38-inch vertical leap) and could be intriguing with that athleticism. He lacks experience with only one year as a starting OLB in his football career as he was a converted WR. Askew is projected to be a late-round draft pick.
49ers 2014 Draft Picks:
1. First round: Own pick, No. 30 overall
2. Second round: Kansas City Chiefs pick acquired for Alex Smith, No. 56 overall
3. Second round: Own pick, No. 61 overall
4. Third round: Titans pick acquired for a second round pick in a 2013 draft day trade, No. 77 overall
5. Third round: Own pick, No. 94 overall
6. Third round: Compensatory, No. 100 overall
7. Fourth round: Own pick, No. 129 overall
8. Fifth round: Own pick, No. 170 overall
9. Seventh round: Saints pick acquired for Parys Haralson, No. 242 overall
10. Seventh round: Panthers pick acquired for Colin Jones in 2012, No. 243 overall
11. Seventh round: Own pick, No. 245 overall