The middle linebacker was thrusted into a starting role last season after Patrick Willis’ retirement. Wilhoite, 29, registered 86 tackles and one interception in 12 games before being sidelined with a season-ending ankle injury. In 2014, he also started for the Niners when All-Pro NaVorro Bowman was out with a knee injury.
Wilhoite figures to be in a position battle with Gerald Hodges for a starting role alongside of Bowman in San Francisco’s 3-4 defense. The five-year linebacker has spent his entire career with the 49ers and has 213 tackles and three interceptions in his career.
ProFootballTalk, which first reported Dockett’s release, stated the move saves San Francisco $3.25 million in cash and salary-cap space. Dockett is a 10-year veteran with 40.5 career sacks. He was expected to serve as a situational pass rusher in Eric Mangini’s defense.
The reasons behind Dockett’s surprise exit are unclear, though the veteran defensive tackle had been slowed by a rib injury. Dockett might have rubbed some in the organization the wrong way when he tweeted that his rib was broken, a diagnosis that Tomsula refuted.
He started in 37 of the 101 games (including playoffs) he appeared in for the 49ers and registered 28 career sacks. In 1991, he tied future Hall of Famer Charles Haley for a team-leading seven sacks.
The Dothan, Alabama, native attended the University of Alabama, where he transitioned from a tight end to defensive end. He tallied 48 tackles and three sacks as a senior with the Crimson Tide.
According to sources familiar with both parties, it is almost certain that Shanahan will accept the 49ers’ multiyear offer, per Silver. If he does accept, Silver added, Packers director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst is the favorite for general-manager duties — followed by Vikings assistant GM George Paton and cheap jerseys and Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf.
The 49ers’ interest in Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable was real, according to Silver. Owner Denise DeBartolo York interviewed him on the phone Tuesday for an hour. Among the GM candidates who told Jed York they wanted Cable as head coach were Trent Kirchner, Scott Fitterer and Chris Ballard (who declined to interview). Kirchner and Cable pulled out because they became convinced that the 49ers had informally offered Shanahan the job and that he planned to accept, per Silver.
Some factors are at play. First, he’s playing great, becoming the quarterback coach Chip Kelly always imagined in his system (even during his time in Philadelphia). Second, the once-strained relationship between the franchise and the quarterback is in a very good place.
The 49ers stood by him while he took a hard social stance — he appreciated that, and most of the issues that lingered when he nearly was traded to the Broncos have dissipated. Things are good between Kaepernick and the team, and his decision to put his San Jose house on the market this week had nothing to do with football.
According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, “don’t be surprised if the 49ers make a run at Kirk Cousins if the Redskins do not make him their exclusive franchise player.” Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in Washington for three seasons (2010-13) and, according to Rapoport, was “integral” in the selection of Cousins in the draft.
The connections make a lot of sense, similar to lines being drawn this offseason between Browns head coach Hue Jackson and potentially soon-to-be-traded quarterback AJ McCarron. Cousins knows Shanahan’s system and, depending on what happens to Tony Romo, would be the best quarterback prospect to hit the open market since Peyton Manning became a free agent in 2012.