Coach Pete Carroll said months ago he wanted better depth at linebacker, a guy who could possibly be able to start behind Pro Bowl veterans Bobby Wagner and/or K.J. Wright.
His Seahawks apparently are about to get one.
Ian Rapoport of the league-owned NFL Network reported Thursday night former San Francisco starting linebacker Michael Wilhoite has agreed to sign with Seattle.
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Wilhoite, 30, has made 34 starts the last three seasons as a inside linebacker in the 49ers' 3-4 scheme. In the Seahawks' 4-3, he fits immediately as Wagner's backup in the middle, an upgrade over inexperienced former undrafted free agent Brock Coyle. Coyle signed this month as a free agent with...the 49ers. That was after the Seahawks didn’t offer Coyle, 26, a tender as a restricted free agent.
“Bobby and K.J. played thousands of plays this year between the two of them and were extremely successful,” Carroll said Jan. 16, two days after the Seahawks’ 2016 season ended with a loss at Atlanta in the divisional playoffs. “We need to address that. We didn’t get anybody that really made a difference in the last couple of years to really fight to take those guys’ jobs.
“Think if somebody could battle K.J. and Bobby for their starting time.”
Carroll meant a younger player, preferably in the draft next month. But Wilhoite and his experience can’t hurt.
Cam Inman, a former Bay Area newspaper colleague of mine who covers the 49ers for the Bay Area News Group, wrote me after the news of Wilhoite as a Seahawk broke Thursday night: “Michael is classy, well-spoken player who'll likely be an ILB and special teamer. Resilient pro.”
The Seahawks could also be creative and consider moving Wilhoite outside to strong-side linebacker to replace Mike Morgan, though Wilhoite would need to show more speed to play there. Seattle let Morgan's contract expire following last season; he is an unsigned free agent.
Seattle signed linebacker Arthur Brown last week. Brown entered the NFL as an outside linebacker as Baltimore’s second-round pick in 2013. He’s spent his time in the league inside and on special teams.
Wilhoite is used to moving around. He was an undrafted free agent who played free safety, rush end and outside linebacker in college for Division-II Washburn University. He first time playing for pay was in 2011 with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League. That league doesn't exist anymore.
Wilhoite got his career break in 2014 when he became a starter in San Francisco in the wake of inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman missed the season with a knee injury he got in the NFC championship game at CenturyLink Field in January 2014. In 2015 Wilhoite was the starter for 12 games as a fill-in again--after San Francisco's Patrick Willis and Chris Borland abruptly retired before that season.
Last year Wilhoite started six games.
If Seattle's free-agent for the month holds, he is getting a one-year deal. The Seahawks have signed free-agent left tackle Luke Joeckel, running back Eddie Lacy, guard Oday Aboushi, cornerback DeShawn Shead, tight end Luke Willson and kickers Blair Walsh and John Lunsford all to one-year contracts since free agency began March 9.