Durable veterans have helped the San Francisco 49ers field one of the NFL's toughest defenses.
Losing outside lienbacker Darius Fleming, a fifth-round choice in 2012, to a potentially season-ending injury will not affect their plans for the coming season. The injury stunts efforts to develop young depth for the future. One of the team's long-time starters at the position, Parys Haralson, was a fifth-round choice in 2006.
Fleming suffered a torn ACL during the 49ers' recent rookie minicamp, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who cited Fleming's agent as a source. Fleming had signed his contract and would have been assured compensation even if he had been practicing while unsigned. He would receive his salary and rehabilitate the injury at the 49ers' facility if the team placed him on injured reserve, standard practice for players suffering similar injuries. Update: Some players do sign what are called "split" contracts, and in those cases, they earn less when injured.
Teams running 3-4 defenses drafted 12 outside linebackers this year, selecting four from the 18th and 35th overall choices. The 49ers made Fleming the 10th one selected (165th overall). They made seventh-rounder Cam Johnson the last one picked (237th).