In need of linebackers after Willis, Borland retirements, 49ers host free agent Lance Briggs

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SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco 49ers were hosting free agent linebacker Lance Briggs at team headquarters Monday.

Briggs' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirmed the visit. The Niners are in need of linebackers following the surprising retirements this offseason of five-time All-Pro Patrick Willis and then Chris Borland following his standout rookie season.

The 34-year-old Briggs went on the reserve/injured list in late November with a groin injury, and played in only eight games last season for Chicago.

A seven-time Pro Bowler, he had 34 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception in his 12th NFL season — all with the Bears. He played in only nine games during the 2013 season.

San Francisco is eager to fill some big voids on a defense that lost coordinator Vic Fangio to the Bears.

Willis retired at age 30 earlier this month, and with no plans for a comeback.

His 2014 season was cut short by a strained muscle in his left big toe that required surgery. Willis was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Nov. 11 after getting hurt in the third quarter at St. Louis on Oct. 13.

"I understand that getting up here today is not for me to say, 'Yeah, I'm going to leave you all with a little bit just in case I get bored at home, or I want to come back or I might need a paycheck, just in case,'" he said while making his announcement March 10. "No, I am leaving this with closure."

Less than a week later, the 24-year-old Borland announced that he is leaving football. He told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" he wants to avoid head trauma that could alter his long-term well-being and was making a decision based on "what's best for my health."

Borland had a team-leading 108 tackles as a rookie, emerging as a punishing defender. He also had a sack and two interceptions.

"From what I've researched and what I've experienced, I don't think it's worth the risk," Borland said in the ESPN interview. "I feel largely the same, as sharp as I've ever been. For me, it's wanting to be proactive. I'm concerned that if you wait till you have symptoms, it's too late."

Also expected to meet with the team Monday is wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.


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