The 49ers expect to be without linebacker NaVorro Bowman for at least the first six weeks of the regular season as he continues to recover from the torn ACL he suffered in the NFC Championship Game.
They aren’t sure who will be taking his place in the lineup just yet, though. Michael Wilhoite and rookie Chris Borland are competing for the job and the result of their competition will determine how everyone lines up. If Wilhoite is the choice, Patrick Willis will switch to the “Mike” linebacker but he’ll remain as the “Jack” linebacker if Borland carries the day. Either outcome is fine with Willis.
“Honestly, I’ve always been a team player,” Willis said, via CSNBayArea.com. “Whatever is going to be best for the defense is whatever coach Vic [Fangio] decides. I’m going to play my very best at either/or. Right now, I’m preparing to play the ‘Mike,’ but if it happens I have to go back to ‘Jack,’ that’s where I’ve played these last three years, so I can hold it down there.”
Wilhoite started two games in place of an injured Willis last year, but Borland’s play at practice and in the opening preseason game has generated several positive reviews. The 49ers can let that battle play itself out while remaining confident that Willis will be just fine at either spot.