“So far, Hufanga seems like he at least can fill Tartt’s shoes. In front of the media this week in OTAs, Hufanga took all the strong-safety reps with the starters, gave up zero big plays and forced starting quarterback Trey Lance to throw all short and intermediate passes — nothing deep.”
This will be a key year for Azeez Al-Shaair. The fourth-year linebacker is less than a year away from a possible free agency bid, and he may have an opportunity to join Fred Warner as a three-down ‘backer. With Dre Greenlaw missing much of last season due to injury, Al-Shaair stepped in as a full-timer. This season figures to determine which contract-year linebacker — Greenlaw or Al-Shaair — the 49ers aim to keep. The one that ends up playing less figures to be the cheaper option, with Matt Barrows of The Athletic noting that might be the player San Francisco attempts to retain (subscription required). Such a strategy would mesh better with Warner, who is tied to a top-market off-ball linebacker deal. A 2019 UDFA out of Florida Atlantic, Al-Shaair registered 102 tackles (nine for loss), two sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception in 13 games last season — his first as a full-timer. Al-Shaair, however, is recovering from offseason knee and shoulder surgeries, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. The team is targeting a training camp return for Al-Shaair.
Daniel Brunskill has started 35 straight regular-season games for the 49ers, slotting primarily at right guard. The fourth-year veteran has shown an ability to fill in at all five O-line spots, and Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes the 49ers would prefer Brunskill as a super-sub rather than as the full-time starter. For this reality to unfold, the team would need a viable replacement. Jaylon Moore, a 2021 fifth-round pick who has moved inside from tackle, represents competition for the 49ers’ right guard position.
“Watson isn’t just a combine darling, an athletic marvel and a mythical creature out of FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. The Packers traded up 19 spots to draft him for a reason. Fair or not, he’ll be associated with outgoing superstar Davante Adams. Green Bay dealt the NFL’s best receiver to the Raiders on March 18, replacing him in part with someone who received zero FBS offers out of high school and only recently entered the national spotlight.
Can Watson go from that to the next Packers star?
“The headline with Christian is his combine numbers,” said 49ers quarterback Trey Lance, Watson’s college teammate. “But he’s also a lot more than that.””