After signing him on Monday, September 3, the San Francisco 49ers knew veteran LB Clark Haggans was up for a possible suspension. Once Parys Haralson, the only backup outside linebacker on the roster, was lost for the season with a torn triceps, the 49ers picked up the recently cut player from the Cardinals. On Tues., Sep 18, Haggans and the 49ers learned of his fate for violating the NFL’s drug abuse policy.
For his DUI conviction in 2011 as a member of the Arizona Cardinals, Haggans will be suspended for the 49ers’ next 3 games. According to league rules, he may have been suspended for as much as 6 games. Two weeks back, Jeff Sperbeck, Haggan’s agent, took part in a hearing to determine if the league would reduce his suspension.
“Earlier today the team was informed of the NFL’s call to suspend Clark Haggans for 3 games,” GM Trent Baalke said. “We were actually aware that this call was a possibility as we evaluated Clark before adding him to our roster. Therefore, we are prepared to go forward accordingly.” Baseball scores
It is no surprise to see Baalke and the 49ers be understanding of the situation. Knowing about this possible time missed well in advance, the team looks to be supporting the vet linebacker and will now have a need to take steps for replacing him. Thankfully for the 49ers, Haggans has filled his role so far as the team’s backup linebacker.
Active for the first 2 games of the season against the Packers and Lions, Haggans didn’t play a single snap but accomplished his job by providing a vet option in case starters Ahmed Brooks or Aldon Smith were injured. With little time to get familiarized with the team’s playbook, it was clear Haggans would not play as much as Haralson had he been healthy. As the season goes on, Haggans role may grow as he makes an attempt to earn more playing time in the team’s linebacker rotation.
As he misses the 49ers’ next 3 games against the Vikings, Jets, and Bills, the San Francisco 49ers now have to find a substitute for him at the backup outside linebacker position. With an opening on their 53-man roster, the 49ers could consider bringing in rookie Cam Johnson, the team’s 7th-round pick and only outside linebacker on the practice squad. Other names that could potentially find themselves back with the 49ers are Ikaika Alama-Francis and Eric Bakhtiari, both of whom were some of the last preseason cuts for the team’s first 53-man roster.
As for an option now on the roster, the versatile Demarcus Dobbs could work as the team’s 3rd outside linebacker. Since Haggans saw zero snaps in the first 14 days of the season, Dobbs could slot in this brief role as an emergency option so long as Brooks and Smith are able to remain healthy and stay on the field for all plays in the 3-4 defensive alignment. Whatever the 49ers decide to do, the backup outside linebacker position will probably be a small concern for the 49ers for the next 3 weeks.