The offseason retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland have left a gaping pre-draft hole at inside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers. But while general manager Trent Baalke has plenty of work to do in replenishing that position, inside linebacker isn't an especially strong area in the 2015 draft class.
Certainly not 15th-overall-pick strong.
Enter Paul Dawson: The 49ers will host the former Texas Christian star for a pre-draft visit, according to the Sacramento Bee. He should be available on Day 2, in part due to character concerns and a disappointing NFL Scouting Combine performance that have muddled projections on the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Still, NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock has stuck with Dawson, despite those concerns, as the No. 1 player at his position in the draft class. San Francisco's second-round pick is No. 46 overall, and could be an ideal time to grab Dawson and plug the hole. If the club waits until the third round (No. 79 overall) to address the inside linebacker spot, the pickings could be much slimmer.
Other possibilities at inside linebacker for San Francisco include Butkus Award winner Eric Kendricks of UCLA, Miami's Denzel Perryman, Clemson's Stephone Anthony and Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney. If the club chooses to look for inside linebacker help later in the draft, it holds two fourth-round picks (Nos. 126 and 132).