The 49ers will now be without another starter after it was reported the linebacker Dre Greenlaw will miss time with a nagging groin injury suffered in the season opener against the Detroit Lions. Greenlaw hauled in his first pick-six of his career on Sunday and did not return to the game as he re-injured his groin on the play. General manager John Lynch was a guest on KNBR on Thursday, where he confirmed the linebacker will undergo surgery on his core muscle injury and miss some time following his standout performance in Detroit.
"They got a couple of opinions on his groin. It's a core muscle injury that Dre has been dealing with here for the last couple of weeks," Lynch revealed on the Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks Podcast. "He did a great job battling through it. He had a big impact on the game against Detroit.
"At some point, we scanned it, and this core muscle injury just continued to get worse. And so it got to the point where we felt the best interest of everyone was to go ahead and handle it."
Typically, an injury of this sort could keep Greenlaw sidelined for roughly 6-8 weeks. However, Lynch isn't putting a timetable on the linebacker's return just yet.
"I think that's left until they get in there and see the extent (of the injury)," Lynch continued. "I think that's accurate in terms of, initially what we know and think. But I think it's always best to kind of wait on that. So, we'll see where that goes."
Greenlaw was off to an encouraging start in the team's season opener, notching six tackles and an interception against the Lions. While losing Greenlaw is certainly a blow to San Francisco's defense, Lynch and Co. feel confident in the pieces they have to step up in his absence, including third-year linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, who flashed on multiple occasions on Sunday.
"I think the best news is Azeez probably had his best game – not probably – he had his best game as a 49er. He played some fantastic football. I thought, at times, he was the best defensive player we had the other day and that's saying something because he's playing with some All-Pro players. So, he's really performed at a high level, and now he has an opportunity to go show that more."
Al-Shaair notched a tackle for a loss of 8 yards that helped lead to a missed field goal by Detroit. He was also integral in slowing down Detroit's comeback, breaking up a potential first down by tight end T.J. Hockenson. He finished the game second behind Fred Warner with seven total tackles.
He and the rest of the 49ers linebackers will have a tall task ahead of them on Sunday as they face a Philadelphia Eagles ground unit that posted the second-most rushing yards in the league last week.
San Francisco's unit has had to shuffle in the past. But if Al-Shaair can put up an encore performance to his Week 1 outing, the 49ers should be in a good place while waiting for Greenlaw's impending return.
"I think anybody who watches us knows that Dre is a very good football player and very integral to our success," Lynch added. "I'd say it's a loss, to say the least. But the good news is, all indications are we'll have him back later this season. And we look forward to that. We'll have to hold the fort down until then."