49ers roster: Does Dre Greenlaw fit if Bobby Wagner is signed?

Dre Greenlaw #57 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Dre Greenlaw #57 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Bobby Wagner has been released from the Seahawks and has been linked to the 49ers, but where does Dre Greenlaw fit into the picture?

Sometimes in the offseason, a rumor comes along that makes so little sense, and at the same time, so much sense that it’s rather difficult to decide which side of the argument makes more sense.

The general rumor is this: Celebrated linebacker Bobby Wagner has been released from the Seattle Seahawks as they begin the process of a rebuild, and the entire NFC West has already been linked to him.

On the one hand, pairing Wagner with Fred Warner would be an absolute dream scenario for the San Francisco 49ers, a team that’s looking to win right now and could very well pick up the veteran for a reasonable price if he wants to both chase another title and also take revenge on Seattle.

Read MoreWhat 49ers defense would look like with Bobby Wagner

The latter may seem odd, but Wagner has reportedly shown himself to be very displeased with how Seattle went about releasing him.

If this is a story that seems a bit familiar to Niners fans, that would be because it’s a very bizarrely similar sequence of events to how cornerback Richard Sherman came to San Francisco in 2018.

While the 49ers never won the Super Bowl with Sherman, he was a celebrated veteran in the locker room and undoubtedly got the Niners as close as they’ve been in a very long time.

Could lightning strike twice?

Cap space remains a big issue, as San Francisco will be looking to find an upgrade at cornerback and even the sizeable savings from the inevitable trading of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo can only go so far.

The real situation however is how linebackers Dre Greenlaw, and to a lesser extent, Azeez Al-Shaair fit into this. The 49ers (like most teams) primarily use a nickel defense in today’s NFL with two linebackers and five defensive backs on the field. Greenlaw has shown significant promise but only played three games last season, and the Niners can’t afford to be sentimental.

Greenlaw has been discussed as a possible trade candidate and it would make sense to move him as opposed to spending what limited money San Francisco will have in the future to keep him around with his injury history.

It’s not a nice thing, but that’s the reality of the NFL.

Wagner hit a reality of the NFL, too, when he became too old and too expensive for the Seahawks to keep in a rebuild. But Wagner is only 31 years old and was a second-team All-Pro this season. He hasn’t lost a step, and if he can be convinced to come to the 49ers for a reasonable price, the team simply must take a calculated gamble and do so.

Unfortunately, the odd man out is Greenlaw. Al-Shaair is a backup linebacker who’s dependable enough to start a game or two if needed, but he isn’t really going to be more than that and thus any future contract he has won’t be financially crippling. A potential Greenlaw deal may be too expensive for the Niners down the stretch.

Trading him now instead of losing him for nothing in free agency or overpaying him while upgrading the position with Wagner is a move that makes total sense.

And if the draft compensation is fair, it could be another piece of ammunition to help San Francisco move up.

It’s too early to tell if Wagner to the 49ers is going to be a reality, but it isn’t too early to know that the reality for Greenlaw is he’s going to be on the outer if it does eventuate.

Next. 5 pending free agents 49ers must go all out to re-sign in 2022. dark