The 49ers took two outside linebackers in last month's draft, and today they're thanking their lucky stars they did just that. One of those linebackers, Notre Dame's Darius Fleming, tore his ACL on Friday, his agent and the team confirmed today. That news was first reported by NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.
Fleming was injured early in Friday's rookie minicamp practice, an injury that originally appeared to be to his hamstring. That was the only day of the three-day camp that was open to the media. Immediately after that session, Fleming told reporters the injury wasn't severe and that he planned to get back on the field that weekend.
He was on his feet -- albeit moving slowly -- during both the morning and afternoon practices Friday. "He tried to shake it off and practice, but there was a stability issue," agent Andy Simms said. A subsequent MRI revealed the tear.
The 49ers have not commented on what they plan to do with Fleming, although an ACL injury likely would prompt them to eventually place the rookie on injured reserve or perhaps the physically unable to perform list. Simms said no other ligaments were damaged, which is good news as far as the recovery.
"There's some hope that if he works hard it could be November (when Fleming returns)," Simms said. "That's obviously optimistic, so we'll see. But they're keeping all possibilities open right now."
The 49ers used two picks at outside linebacker because they only had three players at that position on the roster last year - starters Ahmad Brooks and Parys Haralson as well as then-rookie Aldon Smith, who spent most of the season as a defensive end. The presumed starters this year are Brooks and Smith.
The team took Fleming in the fifth round and then Cam Johnson of Virginia in the seventh round. Johnson played through a knee injury last year and was not as consistent as NFL teams would have liked. That inconsistency - and not because he has a trait for sickle-cell anemia - is why he fell in the draft.
However, he also has flashed ability that prompted the 49ers to take him with their final pick. He has the size - 267 pounds - and the run-stopping ability the 49ers prefer at that position. In addition, the team on Monday signed tryout player Eric Bakhtiari, who also is an outside linebacker. Undrafted rookie Kourtnei Brown, who played defensive end exclusively at Clemson, also is on the roster.
Fleming signed a four-year deal the day before the injury occurred.
-- Matt Barrows