Preliminary indications confirm that the Denver Broncos have struck a deal with San Francisco, sending cornerback Willie Middlebrooks to the 49ers in exchange for defensive end John Engelberger.
Middlebrooks, a former 49ers first round draft choice, was used mainly in a backup role during his four year stint with Denver, starting in only two games as a Bronco. Although team officials would not comment, it is widely believed that Middlebrooks fell out of favor with the team when he was charged with domestic violence during the off-season.
Engelberger, a second round pick in the 2000 draft, became expendable when San Francisco decided to switch to a 3-4 defensive scheme for the upcoming season, feeling that at 6-4, 258-lbs.he was better suited in a four man front line system.
The former Virginia Tech star is known to have good explosion off the line, but is not considered strong enough to really collapse the pocket. His speed and endurance will help contain the run but his tendency to be overwhelmed by bigger offensive lineman can often put him out of position during pursuit.
As one of seventeen defensive linemen heading into training camp Engelberger's status is unclear, but his character and work ethic while with the 49ers remains unquestioned, and that in itself is a big plus for Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan.
While no official announcement has been made, the Broncos spoke with both Engelberger and his agent, Robert Lattinville on Wednesday, informing them of the prospective trade.
An official announcement should come later this afternoon or possibly on Friday, according to league sources.
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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Schon: Middlebrooks headed to the Bay
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