The 49ers full-back performance was closer to excellence than efficiency in 2021. Everyone in the footballing world recognized Fred Warner as the best player of the match. But it was his peers who helped raise the bar last season.
This was Dre Greenlaw’s third season in the NFL, but he started only two games after sustaining a major groin/core injury against the Lions during the first week. Greenlaw will return for this year’s regular season final and will continue to play at a high level throughout the playoffs.
Aziz El Shaer, 24 like Greenlaw, started 13 games unexpectedly. All A-Shaair did was raise 22 loss saves, and he has two bags, averaging two yards deep. According to Sports Info Solutions’ “total points saved” metric, only six linebackers have had a season better than Al-Shaair.
Do the 49 have to choose between Greenlaw or the poet?
Forward thinking is the name of the game in the NFL. Greenlaw will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023, so he will be out next season. The poet is a restricted free agent this season. Realistically, the 49ers can bid on the Bard this season, see if he has another impressive year, and reward him beyond the regular 2022 season.
If you’re in San Francisco, is it time to sell your Greenlaw? I’m not sure the comeback is worth it, considering how Dre missed the majority of the 2021 season. It would be valuable for most teams as Greenlaw can cover sidelines and sidelines and has the perfect ‘back-back mentality’.
But the teams won’t line up to send the 49ers in the second or third round to Greenlaw. Then again, when you look at what kind of deal he’d be asking next season if Dre were to walk, his contract is unlikely to guarantee a compensatory selection higher than a fifth player unless he has a Pro Bowl-level season.
I was bidding the bard with a second-round pick, to see if anyone would bite into the Greenlaw deal, but I wouldn’t willingly pass it up unless the show was too good to be missed.
How is the depth look?
There are no unrestricted free agents in the 49ers quarterback room. So, if the team wants to bring back the same group, they can. Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles is an ERFA, with the poet being RFA – the Niners have the rights to both players.
The 49ers quarterback is young, fast, athletic, fierce and led by the best player in the league. There’s not much to complain about with this unit, although Poet and Greenlaw were blown away last season.
The more you play this group together, the better. We’ll see how the Greenlaw contract is executed and whether the Niners bid high on Al-Shaair this off season.