2. 49ers LB Azeez Al-Shaair
Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair provided one of the few flickers of hope for the 49ers in their loss to the Colts. His second-quarter recovery on a slippery attempt at a shovel pass by quarterback Carson Wentz breathed some life into San Francisco’s defense. He also had a couple of solid stops on running back Jonathan Taylor in the run game and was one of the few players who shouldn’t take too much blame for the disappointing defeat.
In the wake of a laundry list of injuries, Al-Shaair has proven himself as a worthy starting linebacker. The third-year player out of Florida Atlantic has started all six games for San Francisco this season and has 44 tackles on the season.
He has stepped up big for this defense and provided more value than expected in a time when injuries were looking to make for a miserable season.
With a Dre Greenlaw return on the horizon, it makes sense to poke around for potential interest in Al-Shaair, but pulling the trigger on a trade would be a mistake. For one, it wouldn’t have any financial benefit. The linebacker is arguably the most efficient player when it comes to producing plays for cheap. He’s currently in his last year of a $1.77 million deal.
Even if Greenlaw returns in the next week or two, there is no guarantee he earns his spot back over Al-Shaair given how well the latter is playing.
With the injury bug ripping through the depth chart this season, Lynch needs to hold onto an inexpensive, proven talent through the trade deadline and direct buyers elsewhere.