The 2014 offseason was filled with some drama as Aldon Smith had an incident at the LAX airport where he was arrested for a false bomb threat. However, he was not charged and avoided extra trouble adding up from the previous two seasons.
Smith was suspended for the first nine games of the 2014 season without pay where some reasons included a house party incident and multiple DUIs. The team addressed depth beyond the 2014 season when the drafted Aaron Lynch in the fifth round.
Under Contract in 2015: Aldon Smith, Aaron Lynch, Corey Lemonier, Chase Thomas
Uncertainty in 2015: Ahmad Brooks (performance/contract)
Free Agents: Dan Skuta, Desmond Bishop
It’s almost inevitable that the 49ers will part ways with Brooks, who has a cap hit of $7.05 million in 2015. He was later benched and while talented, Brooks saw his snap count decrease near the end of the season.
Prior to the 2014 season, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option on Smith, making him have a $9.75 million cap hit for 2015. The 49ers have shown a commitment to him, knowing he had 33.5 sacks through his first two seasons. After serving his suspension last year, he didn’t have the same tenacity as before due to some rust and lack of practicing with the team.
Lynch proved to be a decent pass rusher when he took over for a suspended Aldon Smith and even had some part time snaps in place of Dan Skuta. Lemonier has been a disappointment, only appearing on special teams after having a poor pass rush in the first two games of the season.
In 2015 under new defensive coordinator Eric Mangini, the 49ers will stick to being a 3-4 team, meaning they should be able to add someone in free agency as well as the draft. Assuming that Mangini is a more aggressive defensive coordinator, they will always need some reinforcements. No team can have enough pass rushers and while Lynch has been good in a part-time role, they need someone to be the every down OLB on the opposite side of Aldon Smith.
With many pressing needs on the defensive line and wide receiver, they could wait to take an OLB in the middle rounds. Both Skuta and Bishop should be walking in free agency, but the team can bring back the latter at a low price for competition in training camp.
Other 49ers positions: