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Free agent profile: Are Azeez Al-Shaair’s days with the 49ers done?

A reunion with DeMeco Ryans feels inevitable

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The 49ers head into the 2023 offseason with 25 players (21 unrestricted, four restricted) entering free agency. Throughout the offseason, we’ll highlight each player and their case.

Azeez Al-Shaair, Age: 25, LB

Azeez Al-Shaair had a breakout season in 2021. Stepping in for Dre Greenlaw, Al-Shaair took advantage of his opportunity. Posting an impressive 102 tackles, nine tackles for loss, five passes defended, an interception, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries stat line.

2021 was the first season Al-Shaair played over 29 percent of snaps on defense. His role was primarily on special teams from 2019-20. Al-Shaair played over 50 percent of the time on special teams.

Al-Shaair dealt with a knee injury suffered in Week 16 and an elbow injury in Week 14 that cost him three games collectively in 2021. Still, Al-Shaair thrived in his new role, posting nine-plus tackles in five games, including 15 combined tackles, a fumble recovery, and a half-a-sack performance in Seattle in Week 12.

The 49ers recognized the leap from Al-Shaair and placed a second-round tender on him as a restricted free agent in 2021. Considering Al-Shaair was an undrafted free agent, the organization made a strong statement with the tender.

Greenlaw returning in 2022, in addition to Fred Warner and Al-Shaair, pushed the 49ers’ linebacker group to the best in the league. Unfortunately, Al-Shaair lost five games to a knee injury suffered in Week 3 against Denver. Greenlaw thrived after receiving an extension during the season, and Al-Shaair’s snap share dwindled following his return.

It’s easy to view the decline in playtime for Al-Shaair as a regression in his play. In my opinion, Greenlaw had an outstanding season and was healthy, which pushed Al-Shaair to the sideline in 2022. It’s more of an embarrassment of riches situation.

Al-Shaair finds himself as an unrestricted free agent and has hinted at moving on from the team.

A reunion with DeMeco Ryans feels like a perfect match, but Al-Shaair will have plenty of suitors due to his age and ability. This is the unfortunate reality in the NFL, especially with a roster loaded with talent, such as the 49ers.

The 49ers have shown an uncanny ability to identify talent and strengths with undrafted free agents, and Al-Shaair is one of the prime examples.


Al-Shaair signs with the Houston Texans to become their starting mike linebacker under DeMeco Ryans.