When the San Francisco 49ers drafted ILB Chris Borland in the third-round (No. 77), I knew they got a steal. A player I had the 49ers targeting back in early April, GM Trent Baalke saw value and stuck to his board. Now, that Borland is a Niner what can the Forever Faithful expect from the rookie third-round prospect? Watch him do what he did in college which is wreck havoc along the line of scrimmage, while possessing the necessary instincts to sniff out plays pre-snap. And while 49ers DC Vic Fangio went on record saying Borland’s instincts is at times a double-edged sword as he takes himself “out of plays,” I wouldn’t be too worried about that.
I have been watching Borland all throughout training camp and he looks nothing short of a seasoned veteran. From his sideline-to-sideline presence to maintaing proper leverage in the box, Borland looks the part of a day one rookie starter. Will he start and overtake ILB Michael Wilhoite? That remains to be seen, but if Borland can show the same ability he’s shown in practice, it would be hard to leave him off the field.
So why is Fangio downplaying his stud linebacker? Maybe because he doesn’t want his young but talented rookie to get too comfortable. Whatever the case may be, Borland is a solid starter, mark my words.
But what about his wingspan? The player known for his “T-Rex” arms have been a huge knock on him ever since he stepped on the field. However, that hasn’t stopped Borland from making plays on the ball as he led the team in deflections and interceptions at one point according to head coach Jim Harbaugh. And with preseason set to begin tomorrow expect nothing less than a highlight reel, as you here Tim Ryan say “Borland makes the tackle again! Wow can this guy play!”
As the 49ers prepare for the Baltimore Ravens do not be surprised if Borland leads the team in tackles, as I predict him to finish the preseason winning that category. And with Borland getting better each and every snap, look for him to have a stellar preseason, as he should average around eight tackles per game. A similar preseason to LB Eric Bakhtiari in 2012, where he finished with 15 tackles and 2.5 sacks, look for Borland to have that type of preseason as he proves his worth despite being a rookie.