SF 49ers Linebackers
MIKE: Fred Warner, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles
WILL: Kwon Alexander, Azeez Al-Shaair
SAM: Dre Greenlaw, Mark Nzeocha
There’s not a lot of drama among the Niners’ starting linebackers, who’ll be comprised of the trio of Fred Warner, Kwon Alexander and Dre Greenlaw to start the season. Warner is on the reserve/COVID-19 list. But with San Francisco’s roster technically at 52 players, the intention appears to be Warner will be ready for Week 1.
All three linebacker spots are interchangeable. But the prevalence of nickel defenses mean only two will take the field roughly 60 percent of the time on game day. So look for second-year pro Dre Greenlaw to be the rotational player in and out of the lineup.
The backups, meanwhile, were quite notable. And it’s good the 49ers had a nice little competition here to determine the pecking order.
Veteran linebacker Mark Nzeocha, who can double as a strong-side (SAM) backup, has excellent special teams abilities. That’ll be expected, too, from reserve linebackers Azeez Al-Shaair and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles.
Flannigan-Fowles, a converted safety, was a strong riser during training camp and can be expected to spell some of the defense’s pass-coverage needs from this position.