Niners Special Teams Ace Bellore Can Play Linebacker, Too

Backup to NaVorro Bowman has sack, strong game in first exhibition against Houston Texans

Through his first five NFL seasons, inside linebacker Nick Bellore has exactly zero starts. And, going into season No. 6 as the backup to NaVorro Bowman, Bellore’s forecast for starts in 2016 is the same.

But that doesn’t mean Bellore isn’t valuable to the 49ers.

The 6-foot-1, 238-pounder from Central Michigan – who played his first four pro seasons with the New York Jets -- is an ace on special teams and a valuable backup defender, as he showed in Sunday night’s exhibition opener.

Bellore had two tackles and a sack in Sunday night’s 24-13 loss to the Houston Texans at Levi’s Stadium. Although Bellore’s role as an inside linebacker will likely be limited during the regular season if Bowman stays healthy, he’s a pro’s pro who has impressed new head coach Chip Kelly.

Bellore’s biggest play was a sack of young Texans quarterback Tom Savage in the second quarter, when he blitzed through a hole between the center and right guard for a tackle and 9-yard loss.

“Nick’s just such a productive special teams player for us,” Kelly told reporters after Sunday’s game. “It was really good to see him make some plays at the linebacker spot for us. …

“Really impressed with him. He made a couple plays where you saw him key and diagnose it very quickly and shoot the gap and make a play in the backfield. Those are things we’ve seen, but we haven’t had pads on, especially in the springtime, so we really couldn’t tackle. But I think he’s one of those guys on defense in the second half that showed up today.”

The 49ers will resume exhibition action this Saturday night against the Broncos in Denver.

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