49ers All-Pro Believes $16.4 Million Defender Deserves More Love

Fred Warner

Getty Fred Warner celebrates a defensive stop on October 3, 2022 in Santa Clara.

The San Francisco 49ers, the NFL’s best defense, have a player who All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner believes is under-appreciated, so Warner is speaking up to endorse him.

After his performance December 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, linebacker Dre Greenlaw deserves more respect, Warner said.

“He’s probably not getting talked about enough,” Warner told reporters after the 49ers beat the Buccaneers 35-7. “The way people talk about me, I think they need to talk about him the same way. I know what high-level linebacker play looks like and he’s doing it. For anybody out there thinking about Pro Bowl votes, he needs to be in that conversation.”

Greenlaw’s Astonishing Numbers

Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich clearly tried to test Greenlaw with seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, targeting him 13 times. But Greenlaw wound up turning in an astonishing performance, making 15 tackles, including 10 solo tackles, making one interception and defending one pass.

Pro Football Focus anointed Greenlaw, 25, the 49ers’ highest-graded coverage defender with an 84.7 grade. He also surrendered 11 passes for 83 yards, and though some fans might look at those numbers and question whether it was such a good game. But a deeper dive shows it could’ve been his best game versus the pass.

Greenlaw didn’t draw just one or two receivers in his direction; he encountered six different matchups in coverage. Not one caught a pass over 20 yards against him. Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans did catch one pass for 20 yards. But another pass meant for Evans was picked off by Greenlaw in Buccaneers territory.

Tight ends and running backs struggled the most with Greenlaw attached to them. Tight end Cade Otton hauled in three catches for 21 yards with Greenlaw covering him but averaged just seven yards a catch. The RB duo of Rachaad White and Leonard Fournette combined for five grabs for just 26 yards facing the 49er. And, seven-time Pro Bowl selection Julio Jones snatched just one pass for five yards with Greenlaw locked onto him.


Greenlaw Talks About His Personal Growth

Greenlaw’s 15 tackles raised his season mark to a team-high 103, the first time in his four-year career that he’s hit the 100 mark. Outside of crossing the triple-digit mark for tackles, Greenlaw has delivered other personal bests.

His 71 solo stops are a career-high. Same with his four pass deflections (previous best was two PBUs his rookie season). And, his two fumble recoveries are another personal best, which included a scoop-and-score against the Dolphins on December 4.

As Warner demands Pro Bowl votes for his linebacker teammate, Greenlaw, meanwhile, said he planned to keep stacking great days.

“I’m just going to keep getting better,” he told reporters after the game. “I mean, good or bad, whatever the case may be, just go into next offseason and see what I got to work on and attack it. And just keep getting better, keep getting better and stacking those days. And eventually, you see the breakthrough out of it.”

Greenlaw is on a two-year, $16.4 million deal that won’t make him an unrestricted free agent until 2025.

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