Under-the-radar 49ers who make or break a Super Bowl run
By Peter Panacy
No. 1: 49ers Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair
He truly shouldn’t be considered an under-the-radar player any longer.
It’s becoming clearer third-year linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair deserves to stay in the starting lineup, particularly after his impressive team-leading 16-tackle performance in Week 13 versus the Seahawks that included half a sack, a quarterback hit and a forced fumble.
The Niners’ linebacker depth was tested to the max in Week 13 with both Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw out with injuries. The good news is Warner appears close to a return. But Greenlaw, who originally suffered a groin injury way back in Week 1, reaggravated the same injury upon his return in Week 12 and was forced to miss the following week.
It’s anyone’s guess when Greenlaw is healthy again. But the good news is Al-Shaair has appeared to be the better option anyway.
Even at full force, San Francisco’s linebacker group will need to play a vital role for any Super Bowl run, and Al-Shaair will certainly wind up being a key X-factor in this unit’s success.
So far, the results over the course of the season have been exceptionally positive, yet Al-Shaair will need to keep that trend going if the 49ers want to make any serious dent in the playoffs.