Report: 49ers sign LB Philip Wheeler

The 49ers just announced they’ve signed former Miami Dolphins linebacker Philip Wheeler to a one-year contract.

Wheeler (30) has been a 4-3 strong-side outside linebacker most of his career. If he makes the 49ers’ final roster, he probably will play right inside linebacker — what coaches call the “Mike” linebacker.

In 384 snaps last season, Wheeler earned a plus-7.2 run-defense grade and a minus-4.2 pass-defense grade from Pro Football Focus. Maybe the 49ers plan on platooning him with Michael Wilhoite — Wheeler in the base defense and Wilhoite in the sub-packages.

Do you think this signing indicates the 49ers will not draft an inside linebacker during the first few rounds of the upcoming draft? Please explain your answer.


This article has 131 Comments

  1. Not only do I think they won’t take one early, I might be inclined to believe it’s a precursor to Trent trading up and utilizing his 2nd and 3rd round picks to do so….

    1. I would prefer to see Baalke trade down for 2 picks in the bottom of the first round.
      After the first 10-12 picks of the first round, picks 13 thru 32 are fairly transferable.

      In other words, with 2 pick in the bottom half of the first round there is a good possibility that players like La’el Collins, DGB, Perriman, Byron Jones, and even Gordon could be there for us.

      A combination of any two of these players would certainly fit the bill.

    2. If they no longer need to draft an ILB in the top 3 rounds, I can easily see them taking a CB, WR and either OLB/DE or DL in the first 3 rounds now. Outside chance would be a RB. Could be any order.

      1. “I can easily see them taking a CB, WR and either OLB/DE or DL in the first 3 rounds now.”

        Wasn’t there a mock on here earlier today featuring this?

        *Think I just hurt my shoulder patting myself on the back*

      2. I’ve re-thought through the situation and have come to the conclusion that the chances of Baalke drafting a CB in Round 1 are slim to none, and none has his bags packed….

          1. The Condor is in his last flight, Brooks is ready to fly over the Coo Coo’s Nest, Lemonier is really a lemon, with Lynch as the only light at the end of the tunnel. After that it’s daaark. Baalke values the OLB position over CB, and DB/DB/DB three straight years brings me back to a time when an ex-49er linebacker went WR/WR/WR three years in a row….

            1. Going DB in the first round 3 years in a row would seem excessive. But unlike with the Lions going WR, its not because they’ve whiffed on the picks. They each would play different positions, and all be starters.

              Regardless of whether they go CB in round 1, I think it is high on their list of areas to address.

              1. Going DB in the first round 3 years in a row would seem excessive.

                I don’t agree. Though odd, going DB three straight first rounds would result in needs being filled: a starting FS, a starting NCB, and finally a #1 CB which will be needed in Mangini’s defense.

              2. You’ve got Brock as your starter and then Wright, Johnson, Cook vying for 2, 3, and 4 with Reaser and Acker. I think Baalkes’ board relects the positions of higher value and skill set as follows, DL in the first round, OLB in the second, OL in the third and Saturday after breakfast and before lunch an ILB….

              3. I expect one to emerge through the course of attrition in training camp, don’t you? Just like the previous corners….

              4. How do you know the defense can’t afford it when you don’t know the value of the corners on the team vying for cogs in Mangins’ defensive machine?

              5. What #1 CB do you see on the team Scooter? Brock is a #2, Wright is a hope and a prayer, Ward doesn’t have the body for it, and the rest are developmental.
                Also, if you look at each one of his stops, Mangini either already had or drafted a #1 CB.

              6. Baalke just said Wright reminded him of Rogers. Doesn’t sound like he’s on his knees at night with his hands pressed together, and his gaze fervently upward to me….

              7. He also said he liked where they were at at ILB then signed Wheeler. In fact, Baalke has said he likes where every position is at. The draft is just gravy if Baalke is to be believed.

                So I guess it comes down to where that gravy is best placed! :-)

              8. Baalke just said Wright reminded him of Rogers.

                This from the man who had Jenkins’ name already stuffed in an envelope.

              9. Actions speak louder than words, no cb, no receiver, no ilb in the first or second round. Mark it down. It’s either a trade up for Williams, stay put and Armstead or Brown, and then The Mauldin Falcon in the second round. You can call me the Devils Advocate, but may the best man win fellow 49ers Brethren!

              10. A trade up for Williams would eliminate any second round picks that we have. Also no WR in the first two rounds means no DGB. ;-)

              11. Allow me to play the captain obvious card and be clear, trade up for Williams OR stay put and take either Armstead/Brown/Goldman and then The Mauldin Falcon in the second round….

    3. I say they still draft an ILB in the early rounds,

      The fact that they only signed Wheeler to a 1 yr. contract tells me Baalke wants a little more Experienced Depth in that Dept. Wheeler can also help out in getting the Rookie ILB they’ll be drafting this weekend up to speed quicker.

  2. I don’t think they take one before the 3rd.
    They need pass-rushers on D and play-makers on O.
    If Bowman comes back 100%, I believe they’re set…and I believe that Trent believes they’re set.

  3. My hunch is at least moves ILB to a Day#3 pick but not necessarily off the list. Developmental LBs can be good ST players. This signing is for depth. I don’t think this guy beats out Wilhoite as a starter.

  4. I’d already seen reports the 49ers didn’t have a first or second round grade on any of the ILBs in this draft. Signing Wheeler may lend some credence to this. I don’t expect an ILB to be drafted by the 49ers until day 4 now.

    1. Do you have any insight on Wheeler? I’ve been reading some comments from Dolphin’s fans and they absolutely hate him. I saw similar reactions on Wright when he was with San Diego.

      1. He’s ok. I think Dolphins fans are just angry most of the time these days. As Grant outlined, he’s a decent run defender that mostly played the SAM in a 4-3. He can start at Mike for the 49ers in a pinch, but I think he’ll be the backup to Bowman and Wilhoite.

  5. Be a shame to waste such a deep WR/RB draft to reach for ILB. I think its mainly insurance so the 49ers aren’t forced to pass on great day two BPA.

    Also, one of my less convoluted trade back scenarios include moving 15 back for an extra 3rd, then packaging the 3rd with 46 to move back into the first.

    The more extreme the needs, the less Baalke can maneuver.

  6. I just got out of the chat room with Inman, and asked him this:

    That’s not bad thinking. But I don’t sense Wheeler eliminates the need for an ILB. As great as NaVorro Bowman is coming back, he still hasn’t played from what is a career-threatening injury. Depth is vital in NFLby cinman 4:56 PM

    Does the signing of Wheeler indicate Trent might forego his 2nd and 3rd round picks to move up for Cooper or Williams?

    1. Good question, but not sure Inman appreciates the amount of depth the 49ers already have at ILB with the signings of Wheeler, Bishop and Bellore this off season.

      They now have Bowman, Wilhoite, Wheeler, Moody, Bishop, Skov, Bellore. They already have some depth there, with three guys that have a fair amount of starting experience (Bowman, Wilhoite and Wheeler), one with a bit of experience (Bishop) and one that looked like he had some talent in limited duty last year (Moody).

      ILB certainly isn’t out of the question on day 2, but I no longer think it is likely.

  7. La’el Collins request to be removed from the draft denied.

    Goodell said “No supplemental draft for you!.” Not even croutons.

          1. I wouldn’t draft him unless I was the Saints and had an informant within the division who knew for a FACT that he was not the father and in no way, shape or form, involved….

            1. What if they find out he is the father but conversations with police indicate he wasn’t involved in the murder?

              I think a lot of teams will be doing a lot of fact checking with police and others on Collins heading into day 2 of the draft.

              1. That’s going to take time. First they’ll have to catch the perpetrators and then clear Collins of any connection to them….

      1. My gut feeling is he had nothing to do with the murder. He might be the father though. Tough situation, but a bold team may be able to take advantage of it.

    1. I don’t get that. Pausing for the Supplemental would’ve seemed to me a sensible option for the player, due process, the teams and the League.
      ?Quien sabe? (shrugs)

      1. Bad precedent, what’s next? Besides, I highly doubt the NFL wants to be seen doing a possible murderer any favors….

          1. How’s that? If DNA shows he’s the father, alibi or no alibi, he’ll become a person of interest immediately….

              1. No it would not, because then the precedent would be set for letting any player out of the draft for injury purposes or gas….

              2. No it would not, because then the precedent would be set for letting any player out of the draft for injury purposes or gas….

                How did you come to that conclusion? Letting a player out of the draft because he’s part of a murder investigation is completely different from that situation.

              3. I disagree. You’re going to let a guy out for involvement in a murder, but not for injury or a wife that can’t cook? Players would take advantage so they could get into the supplemental. Besides doing a favor for a player that is wanted for questioning for a murder of his ex-girlfriend who happened to be pregnant is PR Suicide….

              4. You’re going to let a guy out for involvement in a murder, but not for injury or a wife that can’t cook?

                Uh yeah, because one is a hell of a lot more serious than the other two.

                Players would take advantage so they could get into the supplemental.

                How so? And why would they do that since the supplemental is even less of a guarantee and would result in less money?

                Besides doing a favor for a player that is wanted for questioning for a murder of his ex-girlfriend who happened to be pregnant is PR Suicide….

                So you’d rather have a potential murderer or accessory to it stay in the draft?

              5. I agree to disagree but the league has placed itself above a murder investigation in terms of importance.

              6. Not sure if the NFL(Goodell)’s side is ever the right side to take.

                Allowing him to withdraw and enter the supplemental would be measured and prudent.

              7. You could then make the argument a player who incurred an injury during the combine or private workout would be a measured and prudent response to entering the supplemental….

              8. I understand your argument, but to me the difference is public perception. Also injuries are commonplace in football. Murder(hopefully) is not.

              9. I agree that the perception of bending the rules for a “potential person of interest” in a murder investigation is not a way to earn endearment from your fan base….

              10. If he truly had nothing to do with the murder he would be better off sitting out the year and entering next years draft if he gets drafted in the late rounds. My gut tells me this story won’t have a happy ending for the young man, especially if he is found to be the father. It feels like the Rae Carruth situation.

              11. I would hope the league would do it more for their benefit than his. A team drafting an innocent man who was recently cleared of any wrong doing is better optics than somebody taking a risk on a possible murderer and having that be a lead story on your big summer event.

              12. Razor,
                It’s a very unfortunate situation. It’s kind of odd that his girlfriend was 8-9 years older then he was, she was near the end of the pregnancy and was murdered right before the draft.

                If it was me, I would be extremely vocal about my innocence and compliant with law enforcement. I sure as hell wouldn’t have my lawyer trying to ‘eliminate me as a suspect’ over the phone with the police. I’d be doing everything in my power to prove my complete innocence to the world.

                Once I proved my innocence, I would never be inclined to sign with a team that drafted me in the later rounds because my compensation wouldn’t reflect my high first round talent. I might consider a one year deal below market value as a free agent, but teams wouldn’t do that and I would be better off training and preparing for the 2016 draft.

                You are my brother in common sense.

  8. Good question by Audusoron:

    Excellent question. Kaepernick sought to improve his technique during a time players aren’t allowed to work out with team staff, and judging by yesterday’s glimpse, he indeed did that. A better passer will also help instill the threat of a passing game, hence opening room for the running cinman 5:16 PM

    Cam, how would you reconcile Kap going to train with Warner on pocket passing and QB arts, and the front office/coaching staff saying we’re going to run and use Kap’s legs more? It seems like a contradiction but perhaps you have a unifying theory?

  9. If we trade with the Raiders at 4, it’s being assumed the target is Williams or Cooper, and that we give up picks. What if we have offered Aldon Smith for that pick and our target is Fowler? There’s some sense to this.

    1. I’m starting to think Williams is the target if they move up to the 4th position, and then later try and move up into the third round to get The Mauldin Falcon….

    2. George:

      Several weeks ago I speculated that this would be an option. By reworking Aldon’s contract not only do the 49ers have a “way out” if Aldon should falter but so would any trade partners. Aldon’s still a premier pass rusher. As I said then, I’m not sure if I like this scenario, but it could happen.

  10. Sorry guys, I can’t give a creative input on the draft, Completely out of touch with the whole process over here. Instead a question, lets call it a sweep stake, Predict at what time (Pacific) the 49ers will announce their draft pick?

    I only ask as I’m contemplating staying up to see it happen but if it’s going to be getting on towards 4am then slumber will prevail.

          1. HA! nailed it Brotha! thanks for the info. I’ll watch for a while, but catching up in the morning sounds like a plan.

            Cheers Folks, enjoy the chaos!

    1. Hey D Clark
      I hope someone will chip in if I’m incorrect, but I think it’s 10:00 per choice, but a trading team gets a reset for the 10:00. My guess is around 7:30 PDT. Might be better to be reading about over the morning cup. Then you’ll get the hilarious over-reactions too!

  11. I found this question and the answer interesting:

    No. Two solid picks with immediate production could push them there, cinman 5:28 PM

    Right now as the roster stands before the draft are the niners a playoff team?

    1. I see two key questions that need to be answered for the 49ers to be a playoff team:

      – Will the D be able to remain a strong unit post Fangio and following the loss of some key players?
      – Will Kaep elevate his play and that of the O around him?

      The key to the D is adding a couple of pieces here and there. A star CB would help, as would a star pass rusher (either from DL or OLB). Also need to ensure the run D remains strong.

      On O, adding some extra receiving options, a star RB, or an OL would no doubt help Kaep elevate his game. But a lot of the pieces already seem to be in place.

      1. Not sure why you think a star CB would help when Culliver and Cox weren’t Pro Bowlers. I think you’re barking up the tougher tree if you combine DL and OLB when you talk about strengthening the defense….

        1. Not sure why you think a star CB would help when Culliver and Cox weren’t Pro Bowlers

          Differnet defense, different coordinators, different needs.

          1. That will be key, Mid, how Mangini approaches it. One thing a good corner will do is give you the flexibility to isolate him once in a while and create an advantage somewherere else. Only rare talents can be ISO all the time. I’m guessing Eric will mix it more than Vic, but Im hoping to build into the complexity as the season unfolds and not swamp the guys with too much detail early.

            1. One thing a good corner will do is give you the flexibility to isolate him once in a while and create an advantage somewherere else.

              Correct, which is why I see the team going CB during one of the first two rounds.

        2. Unlike Grant I think Culliver is a very good CB. He may not be a Pro Bowler, but I rate him as highly as Keenan Lewis. Under-appreciated, high quality player.

          And as Mid said, with a different DC that speculation suggests will use more blitzing, having at least one CB that can be reliably matched up 1-on-1 would be of great benefit, even more than it would have been under Fangio.

          As for DL or OLB, I’m sorry, I didn;t quite follow what you meant? Are you suggesting they would be a good idea or are not necessary?

          1. I like the idea of combining the DL player with another OLB in rounds one and two as the more effective way of bolstering the defense instead of either one and a corner, and I believe Baalke does too….

      2. To me its all about health. Last year we were bitten by the injury bug from hell. If this D can stay healthy, including a Bow running at 90% or better of pre-injury form, we are top 10 still. And if this O-line can come back with a vengeance, with AD, Kilgore, and Thomas playing at high levels, then we have a chance. For as many holes as Grant likes to point out everyday, we have a lot of talent as well.

        But yes 2-3 draft picks making some good contributions would undoubtedly help.

  12. I think it all but guarantees that they won’t take an ILB until Day Three unless he’s an absolute steal at the spot. There was talk they would sign Briggs as well after the draft so I expect Baalke’s attention to be elsewhere.

  13. I think Baalke likes to plug up the appearances of holes in the roster before the draft. He is worried that if he doesn’t, teams will trade ahead of him to snag his guy. If Wilhoite had extended, maybe this deal wouldn’t have happened. I think we still end up taking an ILB in the first 4 rounds.

    1. If the Falcons trade #8 for him I will call them stupid. Hopefully the potential impact of that will have an effect on their decision.

      1. No kidding.
        That’s all we need now–the Chickens with a top 10 pick.
        But then again…I don’t predict us finishing any lower than 4th place in the West this season…so…

            1. Quinn knows what he’s getting and he knows they have zero pass rush at the moment. I won’t be surprised if they acquire Irvin and draft a pass rusher in the first.

      2. Irvin is somewhat a specialist. Would Seattle get a (high) 3rd for him from Atlanta? A 2nd?
        Impact on the 1st round would be to take edge guy off the urgency and they could improvise with bpa.

  14. Rotoworld: The Miami Herald reports Georgia RB Todd Gurley (ACL surgery) is unlikely to play in the first month of the season, “conservatively.”
    “Several people I speak with are saying you pick him for the long-term rather than the first month of his rookie season,” writes reporter Armando Salguero. Gurley may begin his rookie year on the reserve/PUP list, which would cost him the first six games. Gurley had his ACL reconstructed last November.

    1. That ‘fool me once, shame on you…’ saying is coming to mind for some reason…

  15. This could affect the 49ers. Most mocks have Atlanta taking a pass rusher at 8. If Atlanta acquires Irvin, they might be inclined to take another position with the 8 pick…like White, Parker, Gurley or Shelton.

  16. I’d like the team to address the offensive line in rounds 1-4, if the talent is worth it. We lost a guard and Boone is being a jerk. After Anthony Davis there is no depth.

    1. One thing Espn has going for it is the insight from former GM’s as well as former players. Sheftner and friends are pretty good gossips, and Kiper/McShay/Mayock are about even.
      It all gets repetitive so I may switch back and forth.

          1. Ha!
            I think the deciding factor for me is Mayock over Kiper.
            The Kipster just seems to be a little more out of touch each year…but I dig the hair, of course.

    1. I agree with this.
      Letting him out, for ANY reason, sets a precedent.
      I mean…he can always just retire if chooses not to play.

  17. Spurs-Clips has been really good though. Looks like it’s a moot point anyway. Gonna meet a buddy at the bar. Have fun tonight guys.

  18. Albert Breer “Todd Gurley could be another trade-up target. Cleveland, Miami, San Diego all interested. Someone could get nervous.”

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