Michael Wilhoite, who is perhaps the leading candidate to take NaVorro Bowman's spot in the 49ers defense at the start of the season, signed a one-year contract on Monday. Wilhoite was a so-called "exclusive rights free agent" which gave him little leeway to shop himself on the open market. The deal will pay him $570,000.
Wilhoite started two games last season while Patrick Willis was out with a groin injury This year, Bowman could miss the first half of the season while he contines to recover from the ACL tear he suffered in January.
Other candidates for the job include second-year player Nick Moody and Darius Fleming, who is coming off his own ACL injury. The 49ers also could draft an inside linebacker. Hard-hitting Louisville product Preston Brown visited the team last week.
-- Matt Barrows