When asked about the prospect of signing veteran, free-agent linebacker Lance Briggs, coach Jim Tomsula answered by saying he likes what he’s seen from the 49ers’ inside linebackers.
That includes NaVorro Bowman, who is coming back from an ACL injury, and Michael Wilhoite, the only linebacker – inside or outside – on the roster who started all 16 games last season.
Tomsula also said a third linebacker, Nick Moody, deserved mention.
“A guy that’s really moving around and feeling the defense the right way is Nick Moody,” Tomsula said. “I’m pulling for Nick. He’s working really hard. He’s one of those guys you notice. I’m walking out of here and he’s got all his books … you know, you can just tell.”
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Moody played safety at Florida State before switching to linebacker. He was a sixth-round pick in 2013 and has been used mostly on special teams.
Of all the young linebackers on the roster, Moody’s speed and athleticism most closely match what the 49ers had for the past few years in Bowman and retired Patrick Willis. Moody started the final two games last season after Chris Borland injured his ankle, and he had a career-high seven tackles in a 38-35 loss to San Diego in Week 16.
Bowman reported some soreness last month after his first minicamp practice since his January 2014 injury. But he’s been a regular participant since, and Tomsula said the 49ers are treating him more like a typical, multiyear veteran than someone returning from a major knee injury.
Other inside linebackers on the squad include Philip Wheeler, Desmond Bishop, Nick Bellore and Shayne Skov.
Briggs, a 12-year veteran who is from Elk Grove, visited the 49ers in March.
Smith undecided – Tomsula said Friday there’s been no decision about Justin Smith’s future even though Smith was at the team’s facility earlier this week and is expected this weekend.
Tomsula has said he will not pressure the 14-year veteran, who has been the team’s top defensive lineman since he was acquired in 2008, into making a decision.
“You know how I feel about that,” Tomsula said. “That time will come, and we’re not trying to make it a saga. We’re really not. It’s really just as honest as we’re saying it is.”
Still, he figured Smith’s future likely would be known soon.
“It’s getting to the time when you’re going to have to know something,” Tomsula said. “So it’s going to happen.”
Haley on hand – Charles Haley, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, stopped by the 49ers facility Friday and even got into some workout gear so he could pass along pass-rush tips.
Aldon Smith and Tank Carradine were the main beneficiaries. Smith has been the most prolific sack artist on the team since Haley prowled Candlestick Park. Carradine is one of the candidates to take over at right defensive end if Justin Smith retires.
Haley’s presence is part of an initiative by Tomsula to introduce incoming players to the 49ers’ history. The team’s rookies, for example, toured the 49ers museum this week. Two of those rookies, third-round pick Eli Harold and undrafted Marcus Rush, joined Haley’s session when the rookie portion of Friday’s practice ended.
Et cetera – NFL rules prevent first-round draft pick Arik Armstead from joining the 49ers full time until next month. However, the big defensive lineman is allowed to take part in the rookie minicamp this weekend. Armstead (Pleasant Grove High School) signed a four-year deal Friday, and all 10 draft picks are under contract.
▪ The 49ers will have just one quarterback at the minicamp, undrafted rookie Dylan Thompson from South Carolina. Thompson will be familiar with two of his targets, running back Mike Davis and tight end Busta Anderson, also former Gamecocks.
▪ Seventh-round pick Trent Brown, a guard last year at Florida, said he’s been lining up at right tackle this week with the 49ers.