4 training camp questions for 49ers new-look LB corps

The 49ers linebacking corps has been a pretty substantial key to their defensive dominance over the last few seasons. Fred Warner is the consensus best LB in the NFL and Dre Greenlaw’s ascension into the upper tier at the position has allowed San Francisco to control the middle of the field as well as any team in the league.

2024 comes with a new set of challenges though as the club looks to integrate some new depth and replace Greenlaw who is recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered in the Super Bowl. We’ll learn plenty about how things shake out with that group in training camp, and these are the questions we’ll be looking to have answered:

1. Can De’Vondre Campbell still play?

Campbell was an All-Pro just three seasons ago. Since then his overall production has dipped, but it could be a product of the personnel or scheme in Green Bay. He’s an undeniably talented veteran who should be able to fill in for Greenlaw even if it is past time for Campbell to be that level of player. Playing next to Warner should elevate the 31-year-old. How much it elevates his play is something we’ll be intrigued to see in camp.

2. Will Dre Greenlaw participate at all?

It sounds like Greenlaw is destined for the PUP list which would hold him out of camp and the first few weeks of the regular season. General manager John Lynch said Greenlaw wants to return by Week 1, although the GM did indicate that timeline was probably too ambitious. If Greenlaw participates in any camp though it would be a good sign that he’s tracking toward returning early in the year. If he spends all of camp on PUP, which is the most likely scenario, we can expect a mid-to-late season return if he’s able to suit up in 2024 at all.

3. Who’s the third LB?

While the Greenlaw saga plays out we’ll also need to keep an eye on which player steps in as the Sam LB in base packages. Last year the role belonged to Oren Burks who jumped up to the WLB spot when Greenlaw went down. The SLB isn’t on the field very often given how often defenses run in sub packages against modern offenses, but the winner of that job would likely be the first player up in the event that one of Campbell or Warner are unavailable. There’s a relative lack of experience behind the two starters, which makes SLB a pretty significant question mark and position battle in camp.

4. How are the 2023 picks coming along?

This one piggybacks off the third LB conversation. San Francisco selected LBs Dee Winters and Jalen Graham late on Day 3 in last year’s draft. Neither player contributed defensively as rookies, but there’s reason for optimism about both given the 49ers’ penchant for finding quality LB talent. This is a wide open door for both to step into a starting role as the third LB. If either of them takes that job this season it bodes well for their future as a contributor for San Francisco’s defense. Watching their progress should be a fun aspect of camp this year.

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Title: 4 training camp questions for 49ers new-look LB corps
Author: Kyle Madson

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