Manny Lawson burst onto the scene as a poor man's Mario Williams. Lawson was the No. 22 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the same year that his former NC State teammate was the No. 1 overall pick. The San Francisco 49ers had envisioned Lawson as the consumate 3-4 outside linebacker, one who could rush the passer, disrupt the backfield and even drop into coverage if need be.
During his rookie year, he played in all 16 games and looked to be capable of fulfilling some of that promise, registering 47 tackles and 2.5 sacks. But he got hurt his second season, tearing his ACL, and not really fully recovering until the 2008 season.
Since returning the full fitness, Lawson has been a solid player, but one who still does not have a clear position. At 240 pounds, he's still a bit undersized to make a living rushing the passer, and his 14.5 career sacks are not the kind of numbers that suggest his future is close to the line of scrimmage.
With former 49ers defensive coordinator taking over the same role with the San Diego Chargers, speculation has begun that Lawson may join his former coach. The Chargers also play a 3-4, which is clearly what suits Lawson's skill set best. The 49ers, though, are also expected to use a 3-4 as Vic Fangio comes out of the Dom Capers school.
Matt Maiocco, who covers the 49ers for CSN Bay Area, has been saying Lawson is unlikely to be re-signed by the 49ers. Other rumored suitors include the Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.