Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Shanahan hoping 49ers’ Dre Greenlaw returns ‘sooner than later,’ confident in Azeez Al-Shaair

Sep 17, 2021 at 8:40 AM--

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan joined KNBR's Murph & Mac show this morning and shared an update on his injured star linebacker. Dre Greenlaw will undergo what has been described as core muscle surgery and will miss some time after playing in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions.

"Dre, I think it's his oblique, is what you would call it," Shanahan said. "That's been bothering him for a little bit. It's something that sometimes gets better the more you rest it. That's why we've been careful with him in practice and everything. But as you do that, as we've been doing for a few weeks, and it's still getting worse, that means you know it's not going to heal up.

"So we finally had to make that decision yesterday, which was a tough decision because of how good of a player Dre is for us, but we could just tell it wasn't going to heal. With it being this early in the year, not something we want to hesitate on. So hopefully, this surgery will go well, and he'll be back sooner than later."

There have been varying reported timelines for Greenlaw's recovery. Matt Barrows of The Athletic, who first reported the news of the surgery, said the linebacker would miss four to six weeks. NFL insider Ian Rapoport later reported an estimate of six to eight weeks.

The 49ers are hoping for something closer to Barrows' reported estimate.

"I think we're estimating four to six weeks," Shanahan said. "And knowing Greenlaw, and knowing the guy, knowing his personality and how much -- I mean, he's the guy who doesn't want to do this. He doesn't want to miss football. He's always trying to play through everything. So, a guy like that tends [to be] on the [lower estimate], which is four weeks. But I've also seen it happen, and things go bad and not heal the right way where I've seen guys go 12 weeks.

"We're expecting Dre in four to six weeks, and if there isn't anything that goes bad, I'd be pretty confident in that happening."

In the meantime, it will be up to linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair to fill in for Greenlaw. The 49ers have a lot of confidence in the 24-year-old player, and general manager John Lynch said yesterday on KNBR that he thought Week 1 may have been Al-Shaair's best game of his career.

It sounds like the 49ers coach was equally impressed.

"We've got Marcell Harris who is there too, so he's got a good chance to be out there," Shanahan said. "... With Azeez ... the way he was flying around on the field, I thought he was one of the best players on the field, live, just watching him, which I know you guys noticed on TV. But when we watched that tape on the plane, I even felt stronger. I thought Azeez had one of his best games that he's had here.

"It was an emotional game for him too. He lost someone very close to him earlier in that week. So I know it meant a lot to him, but for him to play that way, you never want to lose Greenlaw, but I know Azeez is going to come in there and play at a high level.

"And I know Marcell, I know [Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles], they've been waiting for this opportunity, and they're going to get some more opportunities at SAM linebacker. If there is another injury, they're going to have to step up and do what Azeez has been doing."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Shanahan below.

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