49ers sign LB Dekoda Watson

The San Francisco 49ers just announced they’ve signed linebacker Dekoda Watson to a three-year contract. He played for 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh in 2014.

Watson is 29, he was a seventh-round draft pick in 2010 and has started just seven games in his career. The 49ers probably signed him to play special teams.

So far, I count five linebackers who most likely will make the 49ers opening day 53-man roster:

  1. NaVorro Bowman (if he’s healthy)
  2. Malcolm Smith
  3. Ray-Ray Armstrong
  4. Brock Coyle
  5. Dekoda Watson

The Niners probably will find linebacker No. 6 in the upcoming draft, and that player could become a starter early next season. Whom do you think that player will be? I think it will be Zach Cunningham.

This article has 57 Comments

    1. I believe that there are 3 players in the draft that could be plug in play/impact type from day one.
      1. Foster
      2. Adams
      3. Solomon.
      Either of these players are NFL ready and would be a good choice at number 2.
      But I wouldn’t mind trading out of the #2 pick to gain a player later in rd 1 because this is a deep draft.

      1. Brian

        It’s when some smart-ass thinks they should say something when they really have nothing to say….personally, I resent it…

        1. Like a column devoted to a 7th round rotational player who is not worth the ink space? Meh?

          Sorry fellas but if this was Baalke we’d be calling for his hide considering the various defense needs. I know we are in a honeymoon period so we are cutting Lynch some slack but I have been unimpressed with the defensive signings so far.

  1. If they stand pat at 2 and 34, Zach Cunningham. If they execute a series of trades involving either 2 or 34, it could be Foster or Reddick.

    1. After Baalke, there is very little chance of the team taking an injured player, as good as Foster is. Can you imagine the fallout if the same injury surfaces, say, in a pre-season game?

      1. If Trent Baalke were still here he would draft Foster because he’s a recovering injured player. I think they are just filling out the 90-man roster. Some won’t make the roster cutdown.

    1. Linebacker Haason Reddick attends my dad’s alma-mater. My Father would say, “if you live in Philadelphia, you attend Temple University. Return to the battlefield 49ers.

  2. http://jacksonville.com/sports/football/jaguars/2014-06-17/story/jaguars-lb-dekoda-watson-sidelines-hes-soaking-knowledge

    “Jaguars coach Gus Bradley implemented the new Otto linebacker position in his defense this offseason.”

     “Unfortunately, the player he’s hoping will fill that role hasn’t been available on the field during the offseason program.”

    “Watson has impressed new linebackers coach Robert Saleh and middle linebacker Paul Posluszny with his work. Watson carries his questions over to practice, frequently asking Saleh about the scheme during special teams drills.”

    “Dekoda is very explosive,” Saleh said. “He’s got a very unique ability to rush the passer as the outside linebacker. From that standpoint, his ability to use his strength and heavy hands to set the edge, plus his ability to rush the passer and his understanding of coverage expands what a traditional outside linebacker would do.”

    1. Very interesting comment about Watson from Saleh. There’s a lot more going on with this well-crafted coaching staff than first meets the eye, in their selection of on-field role players for their hybrid systems. It’s going to be a very interesting season.

    1. The Borland retirement was a killer. I am not sure if you are blaming Baalke for that selection Bandit, but I am giving Baalke a pass on that pick. Borland outplayed a lot of expectations during his brief stint. His retirement caught everyone by surprise. While I respect players who have legitimate concerns about their long term health, I lost a lot of respect for Borland for keeping his concerns a secret prior to the draft. From what we know now, in large part because Borland has been very vocal publicly about his decision, his retirement was a process that started well before he entered the draft. And because he had serious reservations about playing football because of it, he misrepresented himself, and fraudulently kept his concerns private, when he had a moral responsibility to let teams know he might very well choose to retire prematurely.

  3. Zach Cunningham will never make it to Pick 34 and certainly isn’t who they want at Pick 2. Also, as much of a dynamo as he is he arm tackles, so there’s an NFL red flag.

    If the team can finagle a trade down and snag two more picks in the top 50 it will be possible, otherwise, and if they choose a LB at #34, it will either be Jarrad Davis or Raekwon McMillian.

    1. I’ve seen Cunningham ranked as high as #22 and low as #52. And I understand the why behind the scores. The high-scores look at his explosion (potential big play making) and his ability to fly-around in space. The low-scores look at him as a poor NFL phenotype as he’s high-cut which is something NFL teams don’t care for in OLBs because they struggle to set the edge in the running game and, consequently, get bulldozed a lot.

      Instead of Cunningham, whom I would pass on, there is a guy I’d like to see taken in Round 2: TJ Watt.

      Watt’s not a pass-rusher and probably came out too early. But I’m not looking for pass-rush in Round 2, that’s Round 1. Rather I’m looking at him as SOLB/MLB kind of guy.

      What I like about him is he has a non-stop motor, he doesn’t miss tackles, and he’s good at blitzing from an ILB position even if he has a weak EDGE pass-rush (and it is weak). Also, he’s reputed to be very coachable.

      In short, he’s everything you want in a non-pass-rush LB prospect and I’m more than happy to over-look the fact that he’s not some quick-twitch, pass-rush athlete. But he’s still an outstanding, NFL level athlete being a top-performer in 5 of the 7 combine events. He’s just not burst/quick-twitch in the elite pass-rushing category.

      Also Davis? Sorry, I have yet to see him ranked anywhere near #34. Maybe Round 3. I’d pass on McMillan (50) is close to Watt (44) in the mock-draft muncher I use though drops to 65 in the single-source, non-muncher I use and is scattered up-and-down in others I occasionally look at.

      Whereas Watt remains high at 41 in the sole source and is consistently well regarded as a Top-third of Round 2 prospect.

      tl;dr: Watt has what you want in a solid SOLB/MLB linebacker and is consistently ranked high in Round 2 as a SOLB/MLB/ILB prospect. The others are not and with variability in consensus tends to come a higher risk of failure as well as a higher chance of reward. I prefer steady and consistency in my draftees over the high boom/bust players.

    1. They really need to find a way to snag the ILB and Curtis Samuel. Can you imagine what Coach Shanahan can do with him?

  4. Another solid signing for depth.

    Apparently Foster is well liked by 49ers scouts, though I believe a lot of that is pre-Shanahan and Lynch. Cunningham would be a great addition if they can get him in the 2nd round. He also met with the 49ers at the combine, so LB is definitely on their radar.

      1. There have been plenty of reports stating this cubus. Sorry, not going to search for them. But I am sure if you do some google searches on the matter you’ll find some.

          1. They liked him when they worked for Trent Baalke.The only thing not to like is the possibility of a recurring injury.

  5. I like positive change from 2015 & 2016. I believe Coach Kyle Shanahan/John Lynch, without single smidget of doubt, can and will bring back some of Paul Brown & Bill Walsh’s West Coast superpowers.

  6. Draft Strategy: If Cleveland passes on Myles Garrett to pick a QB, the Niners should grab him. He’d be the Justin Smith requiring double teamed freeing others to rush the QB. He’d also cause many rushed passes, allowing for less that All Pros LBs and CBs to show more.

    If Cleveland takes Garrett, the Niners should try to move down to the Jets at the 6th pick and pick up 1000 points of other picks, especially another 2nd. Niners could even move from 6th to perhaps 10th, ahead of Arizona to pick up another 2nd, totally three 2nds.

    Their first pick then would be for Deshaun Watson, QB. He has all it takes to be a playoff QB with some seasoning. If he folds, doubtful, the Niners would have an extra 2nd or two. What’s the point. The quality of the 2nds would be about the same. It would be as if they chose to take Watson in the 2nd, except he won’t last until then. I’ve played QB and can tell Watson has all the natural instincts, and DRIVE to win…which he has demonstrated.

    1. While I applaud your strategy to acquire as many second round picks as possible, trading back to Buffalo may be problematic, since they re signed Taylor and can afford to wait without giving anything up.

      Watson did well when surrounded by talent, but he may be pedestrian on a struggling team like the Niners.

    2. Myles Garrett is an edge rusher, not an interior D-Lineman. It’s not his responsibility to 2-gap and take on double teams.

  7. If Cunningham or Reddick is taken by 34 (very possible) then BPA. No need to reach for LB. Pick 34 seems to be in a talent sweet spot. Grab the talent, get the LB later or next year.

  8. We already have Brooks and Harold as our Sam LBs. I think we will draft another Will/Mike to compete, where it’s Foster Reddick or Watt.

  9. Saquon Barkley should be in scarlet and gold in 2018

    40 – 4.33
    Short Shuttle – 4.00
    Vert – 39″
    Broad – 10-10
    Squat – 620
    Bench – 415
    Clean – 390

  10. Saquon Barkley, DS #1 RB, Penn State

    Height: 5-11 Weight: 223
    Position: RB Pos2:
    Class/Draft Year: So/2019
    40 Low: 4.40 40 Time: 4.49 40 High: 4.59
    Projected Round: Stock:
    Rated number 1 out of 154 RB’s

    01/04/17 – 2016 ASSOCIATED PRESS ALL-BOWL TEAM: All-purpose Saquon Barkley, Penn State: Barkley ran for 194 yards and two touchdowns while also catching five passes for 55 yards and a third score in the Rose Bowl. Barkley also totaled 57 yards on two kickoff returns. AP Sports
    12/15/16 – 2016 ALL-BIG TEN FOOTBALL FIRST TEAM (COACHES): RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State…Sophomore running back Saquon Barkley (Coplay, Pa.) was recognized as the Graham-George Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and the Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year. Barkley was named to the All-Big Ten first team by the coaches and media, which made him a unanimous first team choice. Sits No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 13 in the FBS in total touchdowns (17)…Is No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 30 nationally in all-purpose yards (130.25 ypg)…Is No. 12 nationally and is tied for the Big Ten lead in rushing touchdowns (15)…Ranks No. 3 in the Big Ten and is No. 33 in the FBS in rushing yards per game (101.6 ypg)…Is No. 5 in the Big Ten and No. 74 nationally in yards per carry (5.35 ypc). – Penn State Football

  11. I am not surprise niners signed Watson! There are several reasons for this signing:

    1) He is fast with great great athletic ability
    2) He can contribute to special teams and play on passing downs to rush the passer
    3) Our new D.C. Has history with Watson and he knows what they are getting
    4) our roster was so devastated by the old regime that we simply need to add depth to the roster for more competition

    Yes, most of the free agent signing this off season are not flashy but keep in mind we are in a rebuilt and you can not just rely on the draft/ bunch of rookies to carry the team. I like this signing. Go Niners

  12. The moves the new front office are making reminds of what Reggie McKenzie did after he got the Raiders out of salary hell.

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