Kendricks’ Cowboys decision leaves 49ers in linebacker limbo

Kendricks’ Cowboys decision leaves 49ers in linebacker limbo originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The 49ers planned to cover their backsides with the addition of a veteran linebacker in NFL free agency.

Turns out, that move ended up biting them on the same part of their anatomy.

At 3:15 a.m. PT, veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks seemed to be ticketed to Santa Clara. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the “49ers are signing” Kendricks to a one-year contract.

But Kendricks, it appears, reneged on his commitment to the 49ers, as Schefter updated at 4:43 p.m. PT and NBC Sports Bay Area’s Jennifer Lee Chan later confirmed via source.

Kendricks opted to change his mind and follow his former coach with the Minnesota Vikings, Mike Zimmer, to the Dallas Cowboys, Schefter reported.

The contract with the 49ers was not signed, so Kendrick was not obligated to live up to his word.

For a little more than half a day, it looked as if Kendricks was heading to the 49ers as the team’s No. 3 linebacker and a solid insurance policy after Dre Greenlaw’s devastating injury in the Super Bowl.

Kendricks, 32, is a nine-year pro who has started no fewer than 11 games every season of his NFL career. The only season he did not register more than 100 tackles was his rookie year.

The 49ers have some uncertainty at linebacker while Greenlaw is going through physical therapy to get back into the action after sustaining a torn left Achilles in the Super Bowl in a freak incident.

The Los Angeles Chargers released Kendricks earlier this month due to salary-cap reasons, so he did not have to wait until the new league year began at 1 p.m. PT in order to sign with a new team.

Kendricks played one season for coach Brandon Staley, whom the 49ers recently hired as a defensive assistant. The Chargers fired Staley after a 63-21 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders dropped them to 5-9 on the 2023 NFL season.

Kendricks was a team captain in his one season with the Chargers after eight years with the Vikings. Seven of those seasons came with Zimmer as the head coach. Zimmer took over as Cowboys defensive coordinator this offseason after Dan Quinn left to become head coach of the Washington Commanders.

The 49ers’ third and fourth linebackers last season behind Fred Warner and Greenlaw were Oren Burks and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles. Both players are unrestricted free agents.

Dee Winters, Jalen Graham and Curtis Robinson are the other linebackers currently under contract for the 2024 season.

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