The San Francisco 49ers defense is expected to line up tomorrow afternoon minus two of their primary defensive starters, as well as their lone true backup. With the formal but expected addition of Fred Warner to the inactives, along with Dre Greenlaw already having been ruled out for tomorrow’s contest and Marcell Harris a very likely no go due to concussion protocols, the Niners are left with Azeez Al-Shaair as the primary focal point of the linebacking corps.
I didn't see Marcell Harris at start of practice, which likely means a starting LB duo of Azeez Al-Shaair and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles for Sunday.— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) December 3, 2021
Also, no sign of Dee Ford (back) while Fred Warner (hammy), Deebo Samuel (groin) & Mohamed Sanu (knee) rehabbed on a side field.
Azeez Al-Shaair will be joined by undrafted third-year backer Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles — who has 9 career solo tackles and is primarily a special teamer — and possible practice squad call up and one-time Seattle Seahawk Tyrell Adams.
Al-Shaair has made some positive plays this year, but he is not a straight up replacement for his injured teammates and will likely be playing out of position. This is good news for a Seattle team that has struggled to consistently utilize the shallow middle of the field, as Azeez has allowed a passer rating of 107.9 when targeted, per Pro Football Focus. This could be a massive boon for the talented Gerald Everett, who continues to be one of the few bright spots on an otherwise unwatchable Seattle offense.
For a team that has struggled to find any way to move the ball consistently, they actually had some luck in this area against Washington last week.
Russell Wilson finds Gerald Everett on a crossing route for a 6-yard TD.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 30, 2021
Wilson has just one incompletion targeting crossers this season, completing 24 of 25 passes for 376 yards and 3 TD.
Wilson targeting Crossers (tonight): 3/3, 63 yards, TD#SEAvsWAS | #Seahawks pic.twitter.com/FDVVwE5buU
And while Everett has led the team’s tight ends when healthy, Will Dissly continues to be a viable threat in his fourth season with Seattle. His route running and otherworldly strength after the catch make him a noteworthy chess piece against a banged up Niners defense. Hopefully, we will get to see him make some more plays like this on Sunday.
Will Dissly working to help out his QB, who was like ok cool man i'll wait for you, do your thing. pic.twitter.com/sLk1dkjLAy— Dugar, Michael-Shawn (@MikeDugar) October 11, 2021
Of course, the other beneficiaries of the 49ers linebacking woes will be Alex Collins and the woeful running game of the Seattle Seahawks, which continues to look stuck in first gear following a swath of injuries. But while seeing a more consistent and tactful run game would be great, and DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are certain to get their targets (or, at least, be the subject of discussion as to why they aren’t getting targets), the unheralded Tight Ends are likely to make a bigger impact tomorrow if Seattle hopes to hang with their rejuvenated division rivals. And while this game likely means little more than bragging rights, a home victory over the Bay Area squad would be a welcome reprieve after what we have seen the last few weeks.