The San Francisco 49ers hoped for the best but feared the worst when it came to Kwon Alexander. The linebacker left Thursday night's contest with a chest injury and was ruled out immediately. It was announced following an MRI on Friday that Alexander suffered a season-ending torn pectoral in the divisional matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.
The veteran linebacker registered 34 tackles, four passes defended, an interception, a forced fumble and a half-sack in his first season in San Francisco. One of the heartbeats of San Francisco's revamped defense, Alexander has a 81.3 coverage grade, tied for fifth best among off-ball linebackers and his passer rating allowed of 67.4 ranked second (minimum 100-plus coverage snaps) according to Pro Football Focus.
San Francisco will look to the "next man up." Daniel Brunskill and Justin Skule are prime examples of the 49ers depth on its roster. San Francisco will look to rookie Dre Greenlaw to take over at WILL linebacker. Greenlaw filled in for Alexander following his injury on Thursday night. Undrafted rookie Azeez Al-Shaair replaced Greenlaw at SAM.
"Greenlaw would step in to that spot," Kyle Shanahan said Friday morning. "That would up Azeez (Al-Shaair) who's been the fourth guy there on game day, and then we've got Elijah Lee on practice squad who played a lot for us here over the last couple of years, so he'd be the next man up also with that group. Kwon has been great for us this year on the field and as a leader."
The loss of Alexander is a huge blow for San Franicsco. The linebacker was a big presence on the field and was essential in the 49ers defense's 2019 success.
Alexander is likely to undergo season-ending surgery next week according to the team.