Niners shake up linebacker depth

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The 49ers' release of Dontarrious Thomas today comes less than six months after the team handed him a $400,000 signing bonus at the start of free agency. Linebacker Ahmad Brooks, claimed off waivers from Cincinnati, takes Thomas' spot on the roster. The 49ers are also forming their practice squad (as predicted, Thomas Clayton made it through waivers and onto the practice squad).

Thomas seemed versatile enough to play multiple linebacker positions in the 49ers' scheme, but he wasn't ideally suited for the "Ted" role and certainly wasn't going to get on the field in the "Mike" position with Patrick Willis manning that role so spectacularly. Note, too, that free-agent addition Takeo Spikes has not yet unseated Jeff Ulbrich as the "Ted" linebacker. Brooks has the size to play that role, but we'll have to see how the 49ers plan to use him. Update: The 49ers plan to have Brooks back up Willis.