4 players 49ers should explore trading early in 2022
By Peter Panacy
49ers Trade Candidate No. 1: Linebacker Dre Greenlaw
Again, another tricky proposition. But one that has merit and also includes the cheaper rookie contracts that are so much more easily moved than expensive veteran deals.
The 49ers have been without third-year linebacker Dre Greenlaw for all but two games of 2021, his on-field efforts successfully replaced by the former undrafted free agent, Azeez Al-Shaair, who arguably might be better than Greenlaw on the field anyway.
Sure, Greenlaw put his stamp on the fanbase with his memorable stop of tight end Jacob Hollister back in Week 17 in that memorable win over the Seattle Seahawks. Since that point, however, it’s been Al-Shaair on the ascent, making Greenlaw something of an excess commodity.
There’s another wrinkle in the mix here, too. Al-Shaair is a restricted free agent in 2022, and assuming the Niners place a second-round RFA tender on him, he’ll be due nearly $4 million in salary next season. That’d be a lot for a supposed tertiary strong-side linebacker only on the field for base downs, and it’s feasible San Francisco likes what it has from Al-Shaair in a starter’s role anyway.
Greenlaw, set to earn just over $1 million in the final year of his rookie deal, still is on the cheap. But if the 49ers are anticipating him leaving in free agency in 2023 anyway, in favor of Al-Shaair, it would certainly be worth exploring the market to see if a linebacker-needy team would be willing to offer up anything for Greenlaw’s services.