49ers roster: Grading each position after first 4 weeks of 2021
By Peter Panacy
49ers Linebackers: C
With the way first-year defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has played All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner this season, it might be tough for the fourth-year pro to reassert himself as the NFL’s best.
True, Warner is already back on top of the team lead in tackles with 36, and he’s on pace to register 153 on the season, which would likely put him among league leaders, too. Yet the Packers’ game-winning drive late in Week 4 revealed why Warner’s talents haven’t exactly been maximized in Ryans’ system, as Warner was playing too close to the line of scrimmage in an obvious deep-passing situation during the fourth quarter.
Warner and, to a lesser extent Azeez Al-Shaair, save the group, though.
Al-Shaair has been a quality, if not exceptional fill-in replacement for Warner’s starting linemate, Dre Greenlaw, who suffered a groin injury that required surgery. More of a weakness against the run, Al-Shaair has already been credited with a team-high six missed tackles this year even though he’s second behind Warner with 32 tackles.
Greenlaw’s eventual return should help matters get back to normal a bit, but Ryans also needs to maximize the playmaking abilities of this group, too.