This ex-49er would be a perfect replacement for the injured Dre Greenlaw

Former 49ers linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair would be the perfect replacement for Dre Greenlaw who injured himself in the Super Bowl.

Tennessee Titans v Miami Dolphins
Tennessee Titans v Miami Dolphins / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The San Francisco 49ers lost star linebacker Dre Greenlaw in the Super Bowl to an Achilles injury.

It seems like they may be without him for a significant part of next season.

This could open the door for former Niners defender Azeez Al-Shaair to return to the 49ers at linebacker next season.

Azeez Al-Shaair would be a perfect replacement for the injured Dre Greenlaw

The 49ers signed Al-Shaair as an undrafted free agent back in 2019. He wound up being a great addition even though at the time of his signing they already had Fred Warner, Kwon Alexander, and Dre Greenlaw ahead of him on the depth chart.

Al-Shaair proved to be a solid third linebacker for the team, even though he saw somewhat limited playing time being behind Warner and Greenlaw.

Last offseason, he left the 49ers in free agency and signed with the Tennesse Titans where he thrived. He started all 17 games for the Titans and had the fifth most tackles of any player in the league.

It was a breakout season for a player who finally got his opportunity to shine in a starting role. Because he only signed a one year deal with the Titans, he is now a free agent again.

The Niners should be very interested in a reunion with their former linebacker.

As of right now, it is unknown when Greenlaw will be back on the field for San Francisco at the start of the season. At the very least, it seems likely that he will miss the start of the regular season, and we do not know if he will be the same player he was when he returns from injury.

Both him and Warner are as good of a linebacker duo in the league, so their defense will not be the same with him out there. That is why the 49ers need some insurance in case Greenlaw takes a long time to recover or is limited when he returns.

This is especially true with both Oren Burks and Demetrius Flanigan-Fowles, the two players that had to fill in for Greenlaw, being free agents.

Also, it is worth pointing out that Al-Shaair showed up to the 49ers-Packers playoff game earlier this year and even took part in the pregame ritual with his former teammates.

It is clear that Al-Shaair still has a lot of love for his former teammates and would probably love to be able to play alongside them again.

However, it will not be cheap for San Francisco to bring him back. He signed a $5 million deal with the Titans last season, and with his stellar 2023, he will likely command even more this offseason.

There is also the possibility that, while Al-Shaair loves Warner and Greenlaw, he does not want to play second or third fiddle anymore. He proved last season that he can be a team's No. 1 linebacker, so perhaps his priority is to be a full-time starter going forward rather than a guy filling in for an injured player.

No matter what, the 49ers would benefit from having Al-Shaair back on the team next season and should definitely make a push to get him in free agency. Having him, Warner, and Greenlaw (if he is able to get healthy) back together again could potentially make the 49ers' defense live up to their potential next season.

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