SANTA CLARA -- Michael Wilhoite, one of the frontrunners to start at inside linebacker for the 49ers this season, signed a one-year deal on Wednesday. Wilhoite, a restricted free agent, had been taking part in the team’s offseason program after signing an injury waiver.
Wilhoite has filled in for both NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis over the fast few years and has started 30 games. The 49ers traded for Gerald Hodges early last season and he and Wilhoite are expected to compete for the starting role next to Bowman. The team’s other inside linebackers include Shayne Skov, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Nick Bellore.
The 49ers lost Willis and Chris Borland to unexpected retirements last year. But they did not select an inside linebacker in either of the last two drafts.
“Who said it was the top need on the team?” general manager Trent Baalke said Saturday when asked about the position. “I would respectfully disagree, but we feel good about that group. We really do. We weren’t in a position at any point where we felt the player available was that guy. We feel real good about that room. We really do. We’re going to plug away.”