SF 49ers: 5 young players fans should be excited about in 2021
By Peter Panacy
No. 4: SF 49ers Linebacker Dre Greenlaw
Late his rookie season, linebacker Dre Greenlaw began to show why he was much more than just a depth piece and special teams contributor, and his goal-line tackle against tight end Jacob Hollister of the Seattle Seahawks in Week 17 will live in Niners lore for a long, long time.
Some may see Greenlaw as having regressed in 2020, though, as his Pro Football Focus overall grade dropped from 64.0 down to 59.8. And while there were instances where Greenlaw didn’t quite look like the X-factor he was in year one, there’s little reason to expect anything else but the 23 year old bouncing back in 2021.
One of the key reasons why is he’ll have a bona fide role this year. In the wake of the 2020 deadline trade of linebacker Kwon Alexander to the New Orleans Saints, Greenlaw went from a rotational-yet-oft-playing reserve player to a featured starter. Before the trade, Greenlaw was typically seeing around 50 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
Afterwards, he was on the field well over 90 percent of the time.
Consistency with his role should be a massive bonus, giving him both the added reps and allowing him to put those elements that made him special in 2019 back to use.