49ers LB Dre Greenlaw Unlikely To Be Ready For Week 1

Dealt a strange blow when Dre Greenlaw suffered an Achilles tear while trotting onto the field during Super Bowl LVIII’s first half, the 49ers attempted multiple insurance measures. The Eric Kendricks plan did not pan out, leading De’Vondre Campbell to San Francisco.

The eight-year veteran will be set to team with Fred Warner in the event Greenlaw’s rehab does not have him ready to play by Week 1. Although Greenlaw underwent surgery shortly after the Super Bowl, the recent LB pursuit would suggest the 49ers are concerned the longtime Warner sidekick will not be ready in time to start the season.

John Lynch said at this week’s owners meetings (via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco) Greenlaw is aiming to be back on time, but the eighth-year GM indicated this also may lead to a situation in which the reserve/PUP list is needed.

Greenlaw will almost definitely begin training camp on the active/PUP list, but a shift to the reserve/PUP list would sideline him for at least four games. Early October would represent a near-eight-month recovery timetable. While some players have beaten that — including ex-49ers wideout Michael Crabtree back in 2013 — caution would make sense on the 49ers’ part.

Kendricks backed out of a 49ers agreement to sign with the Cowboys. The longtime Vikings linebacker reunited with new Cowboys DC Mike Zimmer, but the 49ers offered him a better deal than the one-year, $3MM ($2.5MM guaranteed) contract he inked with Dallas. Kendricks said the 49ers wanted him to start the season in Greenlaw’s place, a three-down role, before likely moving to a part-time gig once the regular starter came back. Campbell signed a one-year, $5MM contract ($4.56MM guaranteed) soon after Kendricks backtracked.

I didn’t want to be in a situation where I was playing in a position all year and then had to potentially switch to another position — rotating in and out,” Kendricks said on the Bussin’ With Boys podcast (via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch). “I wanted to be on the field. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to make an impact, and that’s why, ultimately, I had to make a change for myself.”

Kendricks joined a team with a greater need for a full-time linebacker, as Greenlaw should be expected to return at some point during the season’s first half. Crabtree went down in late May 2013 and returned in early December. The 49ers could opt to leave Greenlaw off the PUP list and go week to week, but their Kendricks communications suggest a Warner-Campbell setup at linebacker to start the year. Greenlaw is going into his age-27 season. Greenlaw’s two-year, $16.4MM contract expires after the 2024 slate, raising the stakes for the former fifth-round pick to recover and play well this season.

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