49ers starting Sam linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair had an injury scare early in camp when he exited practice the first week because of an issue with his knee. He avoided major damage and suffered a sprain that head coach Kyle Shanahan indicated won’t keep him out for any of the regular season.
“I think it is going a little bit faster,” Shanahan said of Al-Shaair’s recovery. “You know, we had that scare on that day of practice and I think we were looking towards Week 1, but I think it’s going a little faster than that and healing up pretty nice.”
Losing Al-Shaair for any time would’ve forced the 49ers to dig into their inexperienced LB depth. Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles and veteran James Burgess are the two likely candidates to take over should Al-Shaair be unavailable.
While he only plays roughly 30 percent of the snaps as the third linebacker who leaves the field in sub packages, he’d done a nice job after carving out a role there in 2019 as an undrafted rookie. Last year he took over the position full time and racked up 35 tackles, two pass breakups and an interception.