Despite being one of the highly valued franchises in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers haven’t won the Super Bowl since 1994. The team has a rich playoff history, but they have only managed to crown themselves champions just five times.
Their most recent success came in 2019 when they reached yet another Super Bowl where they were ousted by the Kansas City Chiefs. Moreover, sports betting became legal in Iowa in August 2019 which further increased the interest in the NFL in the Midwest.
This also included the state of Missouri which celebrated its first title in 50 years at the end of the season.
Greenlaw’s first impressive steps in the NFL
Exactly that year, the 49ers drafted Dre Greenlaw in the fifth round with the 148th overall pick. He attended the University of Arkansas which ended up being his trampoline for the NFL. Greenlaw finished his college career with 299 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, four sacks, and three interceptions across 42 games and 39 starts.
The strong outside linebacker from Arkansas would go on to prove himself during his rookie season. Greenlaw made the 2019 PFWA All-Rookie Team suggesting that he might be a gem in the making. He finished off the campaign with 92 tackles, two pass deflections, one sack, and one interception across 16 appearances.
Greenlaw also had the chance to come up against the Kansas City Chiefs during Super Bowl LIV, recording four tackles along the process. The athletic outside linebacker, however, didn’t get much time to shine as the 49ers lost by 11 points in the end.
Ongoing struggles and Injuries
His rookie season would eventually end up being his best one so far in the NFL. In 2020, Greenlaw was also given a significant amount of playing time starting 11 games, but he didn’t manage to top his achievements from the previous year. He wrapped up the season with 86 tackles, one pass deflection, and a single sack.
During the 2021 NFL campaign, Greenlaw suffered a groin injury which sidelined him for the majority of the games. He was eventually cleared for the Playoffs as he helped his team overcome the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers, but their run was ended by the Los Angeles Rams who went on to lift the trophy.
A contract extension and a new hope
With his contract coming to an end in 2023, Greenlaw agreed to a 2-year extension worth $19 million with $10 million guaranteed money. However, this deal moved him up the list, making him the second-highest paid linebacker on the team, sitting only behind Fred Warner.
Greenlaw has been a valuable asset for the 49ers throughout his career so far as they can further use his services for the upcoming years. The team is still chasing glory as they ended up unsuccessful in their last two appearances at the Super Bowl.
Greenlaw’s on-field awareness is what gives him the edge over his colleagues in the NFL. He recorded 13 tackles across his first two games this season. Despite his efforts, the 49ers came up short against the Chicago Bears in the opening match of the campaign. Fortunately, his team came up with the right recipe against the Seattle Seahawks, picking up a 27-7 win in the end.
With the Niners being expected to fight with the LA Rams for the top spot in the NFC West Division, Greenlaw will be motivated to show off his A-game this year. We can easily expect to see his best performance this season if he manages to stay away from injuries.
The strong outside linebacker can further cement his spot in the 49ers and gain the trust of Kyle Shanahan.