Kyle Shanahan Goes to Bat for Snubbed Non-Pro Bowler

Dre Greenlaw, San Francisco 49ers

Getty Dre Greenlaw celebrating for the San Francisco 49ers.

With the Pro Bowl teams officially announced and the alternates following suit a day later, the San Francisco 49ers should be very well represented in the game, unless, of course, they make it to the Super Bowl and have to pull all of their players. With a slew of stars, both young and old, officially earning the nod to represent the team in Paradise, Nevada, some fans may assume that morale is high in Santa Clara, but for Kyle Shanahan, that isn’t really the case.

No, for all of the excitement surrounding young players like Talanoa Hufanga earning their first nod, there is also frustration that others, like Christian McCaffrey and Dre Greenlaw, did not. Asked about how he felt Greenlaw played over the season so far during his final media availability session of Week 16, Shanahan made a bold declaration about where his fourth-year linebacker should be on February 5th.

“I think he’s had a Pro Bowl year,” Shanahan said as transcribed by 49ers Webzone. “I think he’s been great. I think he’s played at that level, always when he is played for us and missed a little bit this year, not much, has been able to stay healthy. He fought through some injuries early on and when he has been playing healthy, I think he’s played as good as anyone in this league.”

Considering Greenlaw’s 86.1 Pro Football Focus defensive grade ranks second among all linebackers, ahead of even Fred Warner, through the first 15 weeks of the season, it’s clear that assessment has the numbers to back it up.

Kyle Shanahan Complements Dre Greenlaw’s Improved Availability

Asked to further clarify what about Greenlaw’s play has improved in Year 4 a few questions later in his media session, Shanahan pointed out the one difference between the Arkansas product’s on-field impact in 2022 versus 2021.

“Being healthy,” Shanahan said. “I think I’ve stated it a few times, but the last game of the year the game versus the Rams when it was an elimination game, when it was our season would be over or go to the playoffs, that was one of the best games I’ve seen a linebacker have. And to play at that level after not playing throughout the year, continuing in the playoffs, but just to really build his body up the whole right way throughout the offseason to get it fully healthy, to go through some of the stuff that he had to, to train the right way, to practice the right way and not lose his aggression, to not change who he is and to figure out how to get his body to be able to handle it to me is why he is reaping the benefits now.”

After missing 14 games in 2021, Greenlaw is about to play his 14th game in Week 16, with his lone absence of the season coming in Week 8. With a career-high 740 snaps already recorded by the former fifth-round pick, a career-high with three games left to play, it’s clear Greenlaw has rapidly become one of the 49ers’ most dependable players.

John Lynch Has Words of Support For His Outside Linebacker

Speaking with Markus Boucher and Marcus Thompson of KNBR on Thursday, Lynch took some time out of complementing his six Pro Bowlers to give words of encouragement to those who didn’t, including to Greenlaw, whose time will come “soon enough.”

“I told Dre, ‘Don’t you worry about that,'” Lynch said, as passed along by Yardbarker. “Usually, the flow with the Pro Bowl is the first year you really should make it, you often don’t. But you send notice around the league, and I promise you, if Dre keeps playing like this, the Pro Bowl is going to be the least of his accolades. I mean, he is playing some tremendous football.”

Considering Warner, Greenlaw’s partner, didn’t make it to the Pro Bowl until 2020 despite having 100-plus tackles in both his rookie and sophomore seasons, Lynch’s comments hold particular weight. If Greenlaw can turn in another strong season in 2023, he could join Warner in the exclusive Pro Bowl club.

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