49ers bit again by injury bug, Dre Greenlaw to miss 4-6 weeks

Dre Greenlaw #57 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Dre Greenlaw #57 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The 49ers are already dealing with a slew of injuries early in 2021, and Dre Greenlaw is the latest who’ll miss a substantial amount of time.

Whatever the San Francisco 49ers did to upset the football gods certainly must have been serious.

If 2020 wasn’t bad enough (it should have been), 2021 is quickly looking like the Niners won’t shake whatever injury-related curse it currently has over their collective heads.

Already having suffered some notable injuries leading up to the regular season, including running back Jeff Wilson Jr. (meniscus), safety Tarvarius Moore (Achilles) and offensive lineman Justin Skule (ACL), San Francisco watched as two of its starters, running back Raheem Mostert and cornerback Jason Verrett, both suffered season-ending knee injuries during its Week 1 win over the Detroit Lions.

Now, it’s time to tack on another key starter to the list of injuries already piling up early this season.

49ers lose Dre Greenlaw 4 to 6 weeks with groin injury

One of the other 49ers starters who left Week 1’s game and didn’t return was third-year linebacker Dre Greenlaw.

Greenlaw certainly made his presence felt during the game, registering four tackles while also recording a 39-yard pick-six interception touchdown, which helped swing the game’s momentum over to the Niners. At least before the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.

Yet Greenlaw exited midgame and didn’t return. And while San Francisco’s initial worries focused on Verrett and Mostert, the news about Greenlaw’s status isn’t particularly good either.

As reported by The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, Greenlaw will undergo a procedure to alleviate the groin injury he suffered in Week 1:

The good news, if one wants to call it that, is Barrows reporting in the same threat the injury isn’t expected to be of the season-ending variety and should keep the linebacker out only four to six weeks.

How 49ers make up for Dre Greenlaw’s absence

Greenlaw has been the regular linemate alongside All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner for the last year-plus, essentially taking over starting duties from now-New Orleans Saints linebacker Kwon Alexander in early 2020.

Yet the biggest fallout of Greenlaw’s latest setback will be upon the shoulders of third-year pro reserve linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, who had to fill in for Alexander back in 2019, looking awfully lost in the process that year, and again for depth purposes in 2020.

Read More: 49ers linebacker depth is razor-thin behind Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw

Fortunately, Al-Shaair showcased some notable improvement in his overall defensive skills last season, and the 49ers can only hope he winds up building upon that experience and turning it into a productive measure.

Per Barrows, Al-Shaair will move over from the Niners’ strong-side (SAM) linebacker spot to fill Greenlaw’s weak-side (WILL) role, while depth linebacker Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles will slot in at SAM on base downs.

San Francisco doesn’t have a ton of depth at the position elsewhere on the roster, although it wouldn’t be surprising to see converted safety Marcell Harris get an uptick in snaps heading into Week 2 and beyond.

Veteran Nathan Gerry is also on the practice squad.

As for the rest of the injuries? Well, one can only hope this first wave of 2021 is the last of what’s been a seemingly continuous storm of injury setbacks the past few years.

Next. 5 challenges 49ers face vs. Eagles in Week 2. dark