San Francisco 49ers: Top 5 rookie seasons in the Kyle Shanahan era

Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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No. 4: 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw (2019 NFL Draft)

Most fans were absolutely stunned by this rookie performance. I have to admit, I was, too. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw was taken by the 49ers in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft and has already started to pay dividends.

Greenlaw has already shown he was an absolute steal in the fifth round and was one of the team’s most trusted defensive starters in 2019. When star linebacker Kwon Alexander went down midseason with a pectoral tear, Greenlaw was asked to step up and did he ever. His performance for the rest of the regular season and the team’s memorable Super Bowl run forced many coaches around the league to scratch their heads at why their team decided to let a player this talented slip through their fingers.

Greenlaw’s goal-line stop against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 17 of the 2019 season was one of the team’s best defensive plays of the decade and instantly cemented Greenlaw as a fan favorite. His game-ending tackle on tight end Jacob Hollister will forever be remembered as one of the most electrifying plays in 49ers history.

Greenlaw posted a respectable stat line of one interception, two pass deflections, one sack, and 64 tackles in 16 regular-season games, which was definitely a massive return on investment for a rookie linebacker drafted in the fifth round. Greenlaw’s performance as a rookie resulted in him being named to the 2019 Pro Football Focus All-Rookie team, as well as being named as a starter in the 2020 Super Bowl.

There is no doubt Greenlaw is amongst one of the best rookies to play during the Kyle Shanahan regime.