One week removed from the San Francisco 49ers awarding him a new, two-year extension worth $16.4 million according to Over the Cap, Dre Greenlaw entered Week 3 of the 2022 NFL season with a ton to prove.
With his financial situation secured at least through the 2024 NFL season and his team having fully committed to his place in their on-field future, Greenlaw was afforded a chance he’s long been hoping for, to, in his words, “play free,” without fear of injury or future financial ruin.
And play free Greenlaw did.
Earning 100% of the team’s defensive snaps for the third week in a row, Greenlaw amassed 10 combined tackles while allowing just 3 catches for 9 yards and no touchdowns as the primary defender in pass coverage. When tested against the run, Greenlaw was similarly effective, tracking the ball carrier well and was able to hold opposing rushers to just 6 yards on 3 rushing attempts when he was the first person to the tackle.
These efforts combined to make Greenlaw the highest-graded high-use player on the Niners’ roster, according to Pro Football Focus, earning an 84.4 overall grade. Though Greenlaw wasn’t technically the highest-rated player on the roster, that honor belonged to rookie fifth-round pick Samuel Womack, who played just two snaps and largely earned the rating for his efforts on special teams, where he helped to down a Mitch Wishnowsky punt at the one.
Now sitting 10th on the Niners in overall defensive rating at 71.9 and holding the 19th best grade among linebackers as a whole, Greenlaw already looks like a bargain for John Lynch at the weakside linebacker spot.
Azeez Al-Shaair Is Expected to Miss Significant Time
After logging just 17 snaps in the 49ers’ loss to the Denver Broncos, Azeez Al-Shaair exited the game with an apparent leg injury. Though his replacement, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, played well enough in his place, earning a PFF defensive rating of 76.4 over 21 snaps, fans wanted to know when the fourth-year ‘backer out of Florida Atlantic would be able to return to the field and contribute to Demeco Ryans’ defense once more.
In his post-game media availability, Kyle Shanahan provided the answer.
According to the sixth-year head coach, Al-Shaair has the same injury as Elijah Mitchell, an MCL strain, and like the Louisiana Tech product, he is expected to miss roughly two months of action. Though he hasn’t officially been placed on IR just yet, the prospects of seeing Al-Shaair on the field before Thanksgiving appear to be slim at best.
Nick Bosa Still Has Faith in the 49ers’ Defense
“We get an extra day this week, so that’s going to be big for us after a tough game like that. We’ve been here before, it’s just part of the game. It’s never easy, but I think our team is built for that,” Bosa said.
With a showdown between PFF’s first-ranked defense and third-ranked offense scheduled for Monday Night Football, hopefully that extra day of preparation will allow the Niners to recapture their mojo at both ends of the field.