The 49ers this week met with ex-Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson, one of several inside linebackers they are considering after the retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland.
According to agent Jim Chapman, Henderson, 28, met with both general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Jim Tomsula during a Thursday visit. He also had dinner with linebackers coach Clancy Pendergast.
Henderson sat out the 2014 season after a pair of DUI arrests prompted the Vikings to release him.
Henderson also was suspended for four games in 2009 for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Baalke, who earlier this month signed another troubled free agent, receiver Jerome Simpson, said he only did so after plenty of research and lengthy interviews with Simpson.
“Every situation is different, and we felt good about the information we gathered on Jerome,” Baalke said earlier this month. “We not only spoke with a lot of people that worked with him, we spoke with people that played with him. And we also brought him in here and met with him for a full day before we made that decision.”
That appears to be the process with Henderson.
Baalke said the team is looking at several possibilities at inside linebacker. The Bee this week reported the 49ers have interest in long-time Bears veteran Lance Briggs -- and vice versa -- and ESPN Chicago reported Saturday that Briggs, 34, will visit the team on Monday.
Briggs is a seven-time Pro Bowler but has played in just 17 games over the past two seasons due to shoulder, rib and groin injuries. The 49ers had strong interest in him eight years ago -- so strong, in fact, that they were accused of tampering and docked a fifth-round draft pick.
Henderson, meanwhile, started 12 of 14 games in 2013 and finished the season with a team-best 112 tackles, two interceptions, three pass defenses and a forced fumble. Signing him would not cost the 49ers a compensatory pick for 2016 because the Vikings released him in 2013. Henderson also has a visit set up with the Jets, Chapman said.
Signing Briggs -- or any other unrestricted free agent -- also would not cost the 49ers a compensatory pick if he were not signed until mid May.
One would-be starter at the position, NaVorro Bowman, is returning from an ACL injury suffered in January 2014. Other options include Michael Wilhoite, the only inside linebacker on the team who started all 16 games last year, as well as Nick Moody and Shayne Skov.
The 49ers also have been spending time with inside linebackers who will be part of the upcoming draft. They met with Clemson's Stephone Anthony at that school's pro day this month and reportedly have set up a visit with Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.