NFL Draft 2023: 49ers pick TCU linebacker Dee Winters No. 216 overall

49ers pick TCU linebacker Dee Winters No. 216 overall originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SANTA CLARA — One of the top linebacker duos in the NFL is being joined by a talented young player.

The 49ers on Saturday selected linebacker Dee Winters of TCU in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft with the No. 216 overall pick.

Winters (5-foot-11, 227 pounds) was a first-team All-Big 12 performer who led the Horned Frogs with 14.5 tackles for loss. He registered 7.5 sacks and was the Defensive MVP of TCU’s Fiesta Bowl victory over Michigan. Winters, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds, joins a group of 49ers linebackers that already features two-time All-Pro Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw.

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He is the first linebacker to be drafted by the 49ers since Greenlaw (fifth round, 2019).

The 49ers had a need at linebacker because of the departure of Azeez Al-Shaair, who signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Tennessee Titans.

Al-Shaair started 31 of the 56 games in which he appeared during his four seasons with the 49ers. He primarily served as the 49ers’ strongside linebacker on base downs.

Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles served as the 49ers’ top backup in 2021. Last season, veteran Oren Burks took over that role and started three games.

Burks and Flannigan-Fowles remain on the 49ers’ roster and figure to compete with Winters for the defensive role when three linebackers are on the field.

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Curtis Robinson and Marcelino McCrary-Ball are the only other stack linebackers on the 49ers’ roster at the opening of the draft.

Winters’ speed and athleticism gives him a chance to be one of the 49ers’ core players on special teams.

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