The San Francisco 49ers defense is about to get a lot healthier and a lot deeper.
Linebacker Dre Greenlaw and strong safety Jaquiski Tartt are designated for return from the injured reserve list (IR) based on the NFL’s official personnel notice issued Wednesday, November 17.
The designation for the two Niners’ defensive starters does not necessarily mean a return to game action on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it does mean that the team has opened their practice windows and that a return to the field for each of them is possible as early as this weekend.
LB Greenlaw May Have Lost His Job While Out With Injury
Greenlaw picked off a pass against the Detroit Lions in Week 1, taking the interception all the way to the house for a touchdown — but the celebration was short-lived.
The linebacker hurt his groin on that play and underwent surgery to repair the injury shortly after. He was initially projected to miss between six and eight weeks of action. Even if Greenlaw shows he is game ready by Sunday, he may still be relegated to a supporting role for the time being. The reason has been the exceptional play of linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, who has filled in for Greenlaw since his departure.
Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to the situation Wednesday.
“I think Greenlaw has done a hell of a job in his career for us and just getting back into practice for the first time in a while,” Shanahan said. “So I do think it will be hard to unseat Azeez right away just because of what Azeez has done. He’s played at a high level, and it could take Greenlaw a while to have the chance to pass him up again.”
Safety Tartt May Share Time With Rookie Standout
Tartt is facing a similar situation as Greenlaw, after he went to the IR with a knee injury three weeks ago. He was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie strong safety Talanoa Hufanga.
Shanahan said he’s been anxious to play Hufanga all season. Though, based on Shanahan’s comments, Tartt appears like he may have a better line on his old job against the Jags than Greenlaw has on his.
“I like Huff a lot. I think he’s played well. Tartt doesn’t automatically get the starting position. Not sitting here trying to replace Tartt, either,” Shanahan told reporters Wednesday. “I think Tartt’s played at a high level for us for a number of years and can do a bunch of things. But even before he got hurt, were were trying to get Huff in there too because of what Huff’s brought to the table. But we’ll see how the week goes. I’ve got to see where Tartt’s at, and I expect both to play if Tartt’s healthy.”
The Niners head coach continued with his praise for Hufanga.
“I like how he doesn’t hesitate about anything,” Shanahan said. “You can see it in everything he does and there’s just no hesitation in this game, and that’s what I want.”