The 49ers lost Dre Greenlaw to a brutal Achilles injury in Super Bowl 58, and that setback could easily leak into the 2024 regular season.
The sting the San Francisco 49ers will feel from losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 58 will linger for a while. And it'll probably linger into the 2024 regular season, too.
But for some, what happened in the Super Bowl will linger into next year, quite literally and physically.
Linebacker Dre Greenlaw suffered what appeared to be a serious Achilles injury in the first half, which forced him to exit the game and not return. It also happened in a fluky matter, too, which makes the heartbreak even that more devastating:
Head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed to reporters after the game that Greenlaw tore his Achilles, which will not only make the Super Bowl's outcome that much harder but may also impact the linebacker's chances of being ready by the start of the 2024 regular season.
Doctor David Chao might be one to follow for Greenlaw's recovery prognosis, but it's safe to say there's a strong chance he won't be ready by training camp. Perhaps not even by Week 1.
So, how would San Francisco go about replacing him if he's not available?
How 49ers absorb Dre Greenlaw injury (if it lingers into 2024)
49ers option No. 1: Re-sign 1 of 2 key backups
The 49ers immediately turned to one of two key backups after Greenlaw's injury, veteran Oren Burks. Originally signed as a free agent in 2022 to bolster special teams, Burks had become the de facto No. 1 backup option to support Greenlaw and Fred Warner.
Burks, however, is a free agent this offseason. And so is another primary backup, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, who has also been a primary reserve in support of the Niners' starters.
The Niners are projected to be over the 2024 salary cap by $3.7-plus million, according to Over the Cap, so re-signing both of those players is probably out of the question.
One of them, though, is a bit more likely. Neither is a key defensive contributor either, meaning they'd be on the cheaper side of things.