49ers Called to Place ‘Tackling Machine’ Next to Warner & Greenlaw

The San Francisco 49ers are not expected to lure back Azeez Al-Shaair once the free agent signing period begins on March 15, which marks a significant loss in the linebacker room.

However, one tackling machine who delivered a career-best season is expected to be available — and got Joe Tansey of Bleacher Report writing on Wednesday, March 8 how this free agent would be a “terrific asset” alongside stud ‘backers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw: Los Angeles Chargers free agent Drue Tranquill.

Why Tranquill is Called a Prime ‘Asset’ for 49ers Defense

The 6-foot-2, 234-pound veteran became a fan favorite for Bolts fans for always being spotted around the football. He emerged as a steady tackling presence in each season since his arrival as a fourth rounder from Norte Dame in 2019.

He became a consistent stuffer for the Bolts’ defense, but put together his best campaign this past season during his contract year and in the last season of his rookie deal.

“Drue Tranquill was a tackling machine in his four seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers. The 27-year-old linebacker produced at least 75 tackles in three of his first four NFL campaigns, and he is coming off a career year with 146 tackles,” Tansey wrote.

Of his 17 starts, he delivered double-digit tackles in seven games. And that includes the season-high 15 he posted against the 49ers in Week 9 in the Niners’ home win.

But that game was among numerous ones that showcased Tranquill’s seek-and-destroy style of play. And Tansey believes that kind of style is perfect next to the All-Pro Warner and rising star Greenlaw.

“Tranquill’s nose for the ball would be a terrific asset for the 49ers alongside Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw at linebacker,” Tansey writes.

And along with busting down on running backs, Tranquill is capable of giving a defense an added pass rush element — as seen here in his two-sack outing against the Denver Broncos in Week 6:

Count how long it takes Drue Tranquill to get to the QB. 😳

📺: #DENvsLAC on ESPN
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/mKmqBhcBpH pic.twitter.com/7remn0RBQA

— NFL (@NFL) October 18, 2022

49ers ‘Priced Out’ for Al-Shaair

When healthy, Al-Shaair was lauded for being a fellow 100-tackle ‘backer who helped make the defense faster — especially being a former safety.

But following some productive campaigns in the 49ers uniform, he’s projected to break the bank elsewhere.

“The 49ers could be priced out of the market for Al-Shaair because of his performances over the last two seasons,” Tansey said.

Again, Tranquill is viewed as the perfect replacement for Al-Shaair and new partner of Warner and Greenlaw.

“San Francisco needs to fill that void in the offseason, and Tranquill is the perfect type of player to plug into a star-studded front seven,” Tansey said.

Spotrac is projecting this kind of deal in 2023 for the free agent: One-year for $4 million. A contract like that projection is capable of being workable for S.F. as free agency and potential restructuring of other deals can help open up more cap room.

The Niners could still opt to wait until the draft to look into a potential replacement for Al-Shaair or LB depth in general. Per this spreadsheet created by Steph Sanchez of SB Nation, the 49ers have spoken to 13 different linebacker candidates. Cam Jones of Indiana represents the most recent one to surface on the 49ers’ board as he revealed he spoke to the 49ers at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine per Brad Graham of The SFNiners.

“The 49ers could also look to the draft to bring in a young player who can develop behind Warner and Greenlaw, but they should at least look at Tranquill and others to fill that void with experience first,” Tansey said.

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