LB corps is the NFL’s greatest and it might not be shut

The 49ers ’go rush will get a ton of credit score for the staff’s defensive success, however the actual key lies in the best way their group of linebackers controls the second degree. There might not be a greater LB corps within the league going into 2022.

San Francisco’s line of defense performs a Vast-9 model that forces linebackers to step in and fill gaps within the run sport, which they do successfully. In addition they cowl very properly and may take away the short, over-the-middle passing assault that groups thrive on within the fashionable NFL.

There’s not a ton of intrigue from a standpoint roster going into the yr. Their starters are established and their depth is fairly robust. One battle to look at although can be between Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair for the beginning Will LB job. That spot is on the sector for 3 downs, whereas the third (Sam LB) is often off the sector in sub packages. This is what the LB group seems to be like going into camp:

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Fred Warner

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports activities

Good luck discovering a extra prototypical fashionable LB than Warner. He’s athletic, has an incredible soccer IQ, and is pretty much as good towards the run as he’s in protection. Warner acquired off to a tricky begin in 2021 after being named an All-Professional in 2020, but it surely was evident by the tip of the season that he’s nonetheless the sport’s greatest off-ball linebacker. So long as he anchors the center of the 49ers ’protection, they’re going to be exhausting to maneuver the ball towards.

Dr. Greenlaw

(AP Photograph / Lon Horwedel)

Greenlaw, a fifth-round choose in 2019, put collectively a pleasant rookie yr and was good once more in 2020. Final season he was damage for many of the yr, however had his greatest season in a small pattern dimension. He’s not excellent and typically struggles towards the run. He additionally does not supply a lot as a blitzer. Greenlaw is an efficient participant alongside Warner although and his enchancment in protection final season ought to give him a leg up within the race for the Will LB spot.

Azeez Al-Shaair

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports activities

Al-Shaair was the subsequent man up when Greenlaw went down with a groin damage in Week 1 final yr. He slid from Sam to Will and had some clear ups and downs. There have been missed assignments in protection and tons of whiffed tackles, however when he was on he seemed like probably the greatest LBs in soccer. It is all about consistency for Al-Shaair this yr. If he can minimize down on the missed tackles and be a simpler participant in protection, he has an actual shot to surpass Greenlaw on the depth chart.

Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports activities

Flannigan-Fowles is a transformed security who joined the 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He’s quietly labored his means into a daily particular groups function, and is the favourite going into camp to be the fourth LB on the depth chart. He noticed a career-high 164 defensive snaps final yr and acquitted himself properly in that restricted motion. Flannigan-Fowles is not liable to overhaul Al-Shaair or Greenlaw on the depth chart, however the 49ers ought to be okay if he is pushed into prolonged motion this yr.

Oren Burks

(Photograph by Patrick McDermott / Getty Photographs)

The 49ers added some depth to their LB corps with Burks, however he could not even be the primary participant off the bench. His bigger influence will come on particular groups the place he starred for the Packers after they took him within the third spherical of the 2018 draft. San Francisco’s particular groups had been abysmal final yr and Burks ought to a minimum of enhance that unit for the 49ers. His comparatively small defensive pattern dimension hasn’t been nice, which does not bode properly for his placement on the LB depth chart going into coaching camp.

Curtis Robinson

(AP Photograph / Mark J. Terrill)

Robinson had a cup of espresso with the 49ers final season after beginning the yr with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted rookie. In San Francisco he performed three video games with 37 particular groups snaps on the finish of the season. He figures to be the frontrunner for one of many remaining LB jobs, however he’ll win that through particular groups contributions.

Jeremiah Gemmel

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports activities

Gemmel is an undrafted rookie from North Carolina. Throughout his final three years with the Tar Heels he posted 235 tackles, 20.0 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He’ll be a follow squad candidate if he does not shine on particular groups (this can be a sample shifting ahead on this listing, FYI).

Marcelino McCrary-Ball

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports activities

McCrary-Ball spent a very long time at Indiana College, the place an damage robbed him of his 2017 marketing campaign, and the COVID-19 pandemic knocked out his 2020 season. He returned for the 2021 season and posted 40 tackles, 1.0 sort out for loss and 1.0 sacks. His manufacturing fell off post-injury and he completed his profession with 242 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in 52 video games. He is one other follow squad candidate except he can shine on particular groups.

In response to Olubi

(AP Photograph / Jae C. Hong)

Olubi is the third and remaining undrafted rookie who may very well be destined for the follow squad except he dominates on particular groups. He performed at three small schools earlier than touchdown at San Diego State for his remaining two school seasons. In 19 video games with the Aztecs, the LB / security hybrid had 68 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and a pair of pressured fumbles.

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