The 49ers are short at linebacker as Azeez Al-Shaair recovers from a knee injury and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles is in the concussion protocol. As both players recover and try to return to the practice field, San Francisco signed LB Donald Payne to a one-year deal.
Payne fits the mold as a hybrid linebacker as he’s on the lighter side. Payne, 27, is 5-11 and 217 pounds. Payne was also a safety in college. He’s had two stints with the Ravens and Jaguars and spent time on Washington’s and Miami’s practice squad. Payne started five games with the Jaguars.
Payne is likely a camp body as the rest of the defense heals up before Week 1. However, I think it’s safe to say that Al-Shaair and Flannigan-Fowles are locked to make the roster, so there’s no rush for them to play out of the gate.
The dress rehearsal for the 49ers will be Week 3 against the Raiders. That’s when we can expect to see the starters play. I wouldn’t worry about injuries outside of guys on the “maintenance plan” unless they were out past then.
San Francisco released wide receiver Kevin White to make room for Payne, who was exclusively working with the third-team offense.