For much of the off-season, many 49ers fans have believed the team will move away from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, via trade or release. However, three months after the start of the 2022 championship year, the calling veteran still remains a member of the franchise as he rehabilitates from shoulder surgery.
Additionally, in the linebacker position, many have clamored for the 49ers to swap Dre Greenlaw, as he is a free agent in 2023 and currently has a $ 2.54 million cap hit after signing his offer as a limited free agent. . Fellow linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair broke out last season as Greenlaw missed 14 games due to multiple injuries, creating a formidable pair in the position with former All-Pro Fred Warner.
However, there is a dark horse trade candidate for the 49ers ahead of the 2022 season in the same position: Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles.
Flannigan-Fowles, 25, is entering his third NFL season and will be a limited free agent in 2023, meaning the 49ers will have to bid on him, which will total $ 2.59 million.
While Flannigan-Fowles grew with a role in Special Teams during his two seasons with the 49ers, having played 64% of Special Teams snaps in 2020 and 75% of Special Teams snaps in 2021, and missing just two tackles. in all in both seasons, the unselected linebacker was not a regular defending player, having played only 9% and 15% of defensive snaps respectively in his first two seasons.
Meanwhile, after struggling for safety during the early years of his career, Marcell Harris underwent a linebacker position change in 2021 and immediately took more snaps than Flannigan-Fowles, earning 36% of defensive snaps in 2021 as fourth linebacker in depth chart.
While Harris signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets earlier this offseason, the 49ers signed a two-year deal with 25-year-old linebacker Oren Burks, who, like Flannigan-Fowles, was an ace of teams. special during the early years of his career.
Earlier last week, at the annual State of the Franchise event, manager Kyle Shanahan talked about adding Burks, believing he could contribute as a linebacker if one of the owners got hurt, similar to Harris. last season, in addition to his special -role of teams.
“Everyone really likes our three starters,” said Shanahan. “Now we have a guy behind them who if one of those guys gets hurt, he can come in and play good linebacker football. But even if he doesn’t, we think we have one of the best special team players in the league.”
Shanahan’s words and Burks’ two-year $ 5 million deal indicate that the former Green Bay Packer is likely the fourth linebacker in the depth chart, placing Flannigan-Fowles in a similar role as last year’s special teams ace.
Before the start of last season, the 49ers made a trade involving a linebacker, sending Jonas Griffith and a pick of the seventh round of 2022 to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a pick of the sixth round of 2022 and a pick of the seventh round of the 2022. 2023.
The 49ers also tried to keep one of their non-drafted free agent linebackers, Justin Hilliard, on the training squad, but was claimed by the New York Giants for renouncement.
This season, the 49ers have a number of valuable non-drafted free agent linebackers, with Segun Olubi of the state of San Diego and Jeremiah Gemmel of the UNC as my favorites to potentially make the roster from the group.
Olubi, a safety / linebacker hybrid in college, has the ability to make cover plays, but also the range, athleticism and tackling ability to be a good player as a pure linebacker in the NFL, as well as experience as a special-collaborator. of teams in college.
Gemmel possesses the instinctive ability and tackling prowess that the 49ers appreciate from their linebackers and can also fill the role of special teams.
With more potential younger, cheaper and higher options on the roster, the 49ers could look to cash in on Flannigan-Fowles special teams skill, similar to what they did with Griffith last season, and roster one of the free agents. not drafted as their fifth linebacker in 2022.
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