49ers Insider Addresses Possible Trade for Speedy LB: ‘I Don’t See It’

Azeez Al-Shaair Dre Greenlaw

Getty Azeez Al-Shaair and Dre Greenlaw during Week 1 of the 49ers' road win over the Lions.

There was a big trade rumor that one San Francisco 49ers beat writer felt compelled to address during his mailbag session with his readers on Thursday, June 30.

But it’s not the trade you’re thinking of.

“I’ll try something radical today. How about a 49ers mailbag that doesn’t answer a single question about Deebo Samuel?” The Athletic’s David Lombardi started out.

Yes, Lombardi was asked about the other major trade rumbling involving Jimmy Garoppolo, adding to the speculation that the Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns remain suitors. However, there was another trade rumbling that Lombardi felt he should address since the insider was asked about it.

So which trade talk did Lombardi decide to dive into? It involves the opposite side of the football for the 49ers.

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Talk of Speedy Defender Getting Dealt Away

Heavy on Jets reporter Paul “Boy Green” Esden asked Lombardi this burning question: Is Dre Greenlaw a candidate to be traded?

Greenlaw is entering a critical season — returning from an injury-plagued campaign that included a hamstring ailment from the NFC Championship game and a Grade 2 Inguinal groin strain that sidelined him for nine games. And the 6-foot, 227-pounder is attempting his return in a contract year this fall.

So…is Greenlaw tradeable?

“I don’t see it,” Lombardi said. He then dove into his reasons why Greenlaw’s value is on the “depress” side.

“Greenlaw is coming off a season in which he played only three games due to injury. That’ll depress a player’s trade value,” Lombardi explained. “The 49ers want a speedy and deep linebacker corps, so a healthy Greenlaw grouped with Fred Warner, Azeez Al-Shaair and Oren Burks can constitute just that.”

When healthy, Greenlaw gives the 49ers a ‘backer who once ran a 4.73 40-yard dash time. But he’s looked much faster on the field:

He’s also known on the 49ers defense for closing fast and arriving in a destructive mood.

But the one play still etched in 49ers’ lore: This stop that sealed the NFC West title in the 2019 season.

But with a tight salary cap, newcomers on defense who were given huge deals (Charvarius Ward and George Odum), plus the pending deal involving Samuel that has stretched into the final month before preseason games await, it’s obvious to see why a question like this would be asked. Plus, Greenlaw has never stayed healthy in his first three seasons in the league, which tends to label a player trade worthy by fans.

Final Contract Situation

To reiterate, 2022 presents a critical season for the 25-year-old out of Arkansas — who was once part of the 2019 49ers draft class alongside prized draft picks Samuel and Nick Bosa.

Per Spotrac, Greenlaw is set to make a base salary of $2,540,000 for the upcoming season before becoming an unrestricted free agent for 2023. And he’s not the only cat-quick defender facing a contract year.

“Greenlaw and Al-Shaair are entering the final years of their rookie deals,” Lombardi wrote. “The 49ers may not be able to pay both of them come next offseason, so consider 2022 a contract audition year. And the 49ers are totally fine with that. They might have the best linebackers crew in the NFL, and the return of a late-round draft pick via trade wouldn’t be worth taking the sting out of that unit.”

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