NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

He’s already filled in for Dre Greenlaw before, and did so at a high level.

A host of former 49ers will be unrestricted free agents next month. From K’Waun Williams to Kendrick Bourne, fans will want to bring back the names they’re familiar with.

Linebacker may be a bigger need than some realize. There’s Fred Warner, but Dre Greenlaw tore his Achilles and will likely miss a significant portion of the regular season. The 49ers spent two draft picks on linebackers in 2023, but Dee Winters and Jalen Graham were unproven. It was also apparent that the coaching staff didn’t believe either rookie was ready to play, given how often they were inactive.

Enter, Azeez Al-Shaair. He signed a one-year deal with the Tennesee Titans this past season. During the NFC Championship, Al-Shaair was breaking down the linebacker huddle with Warner and Greenlaw:

Greenlaw and Al-Shaair were roommates during training camp when Azeez was with the 49ers. A reunion feels too good to be true. He’s not just familiar with the 49ers’ defense and how they want to play; he was a star during the 2021 season when Greenlaw was injured. So, he knows how to play alongside Warner.

In a full-time role with the Titans last season, Al-Shaair was fifth in the NFL in tackles and tackles for loss. He was also an effective pass rusher. Perhaps, more importantly, he remained healthy all season and appeared in every game for the first time in his career. Azeez turns 27 in August.

If the team feels Graham and Winters need more seasoning, bringing back Al-Shaair makes all the sense in the world.

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