49ers pick Badgers' Borland in 3rd round

Michigan State's Keshawn Martin loses his helmet as he is tackled by Wisconsin's Chris Borland during the second half of the Big Ten Conference championship NCAA college football game on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers addressed a need at the linebacker spot by selecting Wisconsin's Chris Borland in the third round of the NFL draft Friday night at No. 77.

General manager Trent Baalke is protecting himself at the position given All-Pro NaVorro Bowman is recovering from a serious left knee injury sustained in the NFC championship game at Seattle. In addition, pass-rushing specialist Aldon Smith could face a suspension from the NFL for his various troubles off the field over the past eight months.

Borland, who met with the 49ers at the combine, ended his Badgers career as the school's sixth-leading tackler with 410, and he also is reliable in pass coverage. He had 15 forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries, a blocked punt and 17 sacks.