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.