Eric Kendricks is heading to the Cowboys after originally agreeing to be dealt to the 49ers: Sources

Written by John Machota, Matt Barrows, David Lombardi, Saad Youssef

Linebacker Eric Kendricks has changed his mind about where he lands in free agency and is headed to the Dallas Cowboys instead of the San Francisco 49ers, team sources said.

Kendricks originally agreed to a one-year deal with the Niners early Wednesday morning, but will now play on a one-year deal with the Cowboys, according to sources.

The 32-year-old played last season with the Los Angeles Chargers — under new 49ers assistant coach Brandon Staley — after spending his first eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Kendricks was a first-team All-Pro in 2019 and has eight straight seasons with 100-plus tackles. He finished last season with 117 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks.

The Chargers released Kendricks last week.

ESPN first reported news of Kendricks' Cowboys trade.

Why didn't Kendricks commit to the 49ers?

Kendricks may have had a full-time starting role for the 49ers at the start of the season while Dre Greenlaw was returning from the torn Achilles he suffered in the Super Bowl. But he would move to the No. 3 fullback position — a largely part-time role — once Greenlaw returned to the field, and perhaps simply get a more prominent opportunity in Dallas.

When will Greenlaw return? He had surgery last month and there were no complications. He'll likely be back to full speed by the first week of September, though that will require aggressive rehab and the 49ers may want to take him more slowly. Finding another veteran linebacker to fill Kendricks' role is part of the plan. – Matt Barrows, 49ers beat writer

What he brings to Dallas

Kendricks immediately brings a much-needed veteran presence. His time with Mike Zimmer in Minnesota makes this a good fit for the new defensive coordinator in Dallas. Kendricks will probably wear the radio in his helmet and be the quarterback on the defense. This alone should help take some responsibility off the younger players and improve communication during matches. Kendricks is not the All-Pro player he was in 2019, but he could end up being a productive player in the middle of a defense that will have playmakers around him. – John Machota, Cowboys Beat Writer

One of the glaring needs for the Cowboys this offseason is linebacker. Not only is there a shortage of talent, but also of bodies that can play the position. After DeMarvion Overshown was injured in the preseason and Leighton Vander Esch was injured early in the season, the Cowboys were forced to play safety at linebacker. This was evident with their inability to stop the run. Vander Esch's future in the NFL is in limbo and Overshown will be working back from a torn ACL, and despite showing some promise, he has yet to catch a snap in the NFL.

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Just by being a warm body, Kendricks is an upgrade at the Cowboys position. – Saad Youssef, cowboy writer

Where do the 49ers go from here?

Expect the 49ers to be back in the market for a veteran linebacker, but also don't discount the importance of the team continuing to develop its second-year linebackers, DeWinters and Jalen Graham. Winters saw action in the Super Bowl after Greenlaw's injury. The team will rely on second-year leaps from both players.

Kendricks' defection to Dallas underscores the importance of this internal development. Because even the free agents who eventually sign are not guaranteed to fit in with their new teams. – David Lombardi, 49ers beat writer

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(Photo: Caitlin Mulcahy/Getty Images)

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