Rookie linebacker Patrick Willis is now in the 49’ers starting lineup. That’s not a shock. What is a shock is who will sit to make room for Willis – and that is 2006 leading tackler Brandon Moore. While a lot thought eventually Willis would make the starting lineup in 2007, many didn’t think it would happen this soon, or wouldn’t happen at the expense of Moore, who at one point was the NFC Defensive Player of the Week back in 2006. “Why the decision?” coach Mike Nolan said. “The main (reason) is it’s due to what the rookie has done, not so much to what Brandon Moore has not done. Brandon’s an integral part of what we do as a football team and he will remain that.”
Moore had 114 tackles last season despite starting only half the season, snagging 114 tackles. He did though miss a few tackles in the preseason opener against the Raiders, and it’s hard to think that didn’t have something to do with the decision to sit him down for Willis. Nolan said it didn’t but again, it’s hard not to put two and two together. “I had an opportunity to make plays that I didn’t make,” he said. Nolan pointed out he wanted to make the somewhat stunning move now, so that all players involved will have time to get use to their new roles on the team.