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49ers sign LB Oren Burks to a two-year, $5 million deal

Burks will help on special teams right away

San Francisco 49ers vs Green Bay Packers Set Number: X163452

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported the 49ers had signed former Packers linebacker Oren Burks to a two-year deal worth $5 million.

Burks, a former college safety, was a third-round pick in 2018. He was selected 18 picks after Fred Warner, who was also a safety at BYU. Much like Warner, Burks is an elite athlete. He ran a 4.59 40-yard dash and had a 39.5 inch vertical.

Burks is a special teamer. He’ll spend most of his time covering kicks. The Packers used him off the bench and in dime looks. When Green Bay played San Francisco, they used Burks as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 look to prevent the Niners from getting to the edge on their wide zone play. The Packers rarely used a 4-3 look, so it’s difficult to project Burks.

This signing likely signals Azeez Al-Shaair, a restricted free agent that the 49ers will tender, or Dre Greenlaw, who is in the final year of his contract, is on the way out. I doubt the Niners will play four linebackers.

Trading Greenlaw would save $2.5 million in 2022 — the deal they just gave Burks. If we expect the Niners to place a second-round tender on Al-Shaair, and potentially work out a long-term deal, trading Greenlaw feels like the most plausible move.