No. 3: 49ers LB Azeez Al-Shaair picks off Kirk Cousins
San Francisco welcomed linebacker Dre Greenlaw back from injured reserve after he suffered a groin injury way back in Week 1.
But Azeez Al-Shaair isn’t making Greenlaw’s return to the starting lineup any easier, and the fact Greenlaw reaggravated his injury during the game and had to leave says a lot about the kind of role Al-Shaair will be asked to play in the upcoming weeks.
And if he continues to have games like he did in Week 12, Al-Shaair won’t be removed from the lineup anytime soon.
Al-Shaair not only recovered the loose Dalvin Cook fumble, but a gifted interception off the hands of Kirk Cousins helped set the tone for the 49ers’ second-half surge:
Cousins had a very Jimmy Garoppolo-like interception, not identifying Al-Shaair, who was in perfect position to make the play and return it all the way to Minnesota’s 2-yard line.
On the very next play, running back Elijah Mitchell punched it in for a 2-yard rushing touchdown, putting the Niners up 28-14.
Granted, the Vikings would answer back with a touchdown of their own on the following possession. But Al-Shaair was nevertheless key in ensuring San Francisco didn’t fall by the way of losing the crucial turnover differential, coming up with this game-changing play that helped net the 49ers some much-needed points.