Eric Kendricks breaks silence on why he rebuffed 49ers to join Cowboys

Eric Kendricks' rationale for opting not to sign with the 49ers in free agency makes a good deal of sense.
Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Eric Kendricks (6)
Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Eric Kendricks (6) / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when the 49ers apparently signed Eric Kendricks, only to lose him to the Cowboys? The linebacker finally revealed why.

Back during the opening waves of free agency in the 2024 offseason, the San Francisco 49ers had a deal in place with veteran free-agent linebacker Eric Kendricks.

The move made sense for both parties.

The Niners, a team ready to win a Super Bowl now, didn't mind adding a 32-year-old Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro, especially after star linebacker Dre Greenlaw suffered a torn Achilles in the Super Bowl the previous February.

For Kendricks, who spent the bulk of his nine-year career on some good-but-not-great Minnesota Vikings teams before seeing action with the underachieving Los Angeles Chargers in 2023, it was an excellent opportunity to finally hoist that elusive Lombardi Trophy for the first time in his career.

At the 11th hour, or at least pen was officially put to paper, Kendricks declined San Francisco's offer and opted to join the Dallas Cowboys on a one-year deal.


There was a thought that Kendricks wanted to rejoin Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, the long-time Vikings head coach. Perhaps Dallas was offering a little more money than the 49ers were willing to give the linebacker, too.

According to Kendricks, though, there's a different reason.

Eric Kendricks opens up about why he chose Cowboys instead of 49ers

Speaking via Jon Machota of The Athletic (h/t Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk), Kendricks opened up about the reason why he ultimately chose the Cowboys over the Niners.

"I think I would’ve taken more of a reserve role [in San Francisco]," Kendricks said. "Where as I feel I have a lot left to give and I wanted to be here and be middle linebacker. I wanted to share my experience with the team, share my leadership abilities and command that huddle."

The 49ers don't hurt for leadership, especially at linebacker. Team captain Fred Warner is viewed as one of the best leaders in the game, and Kendricks wouldn't usurp him.

Plus, while Greenlaw is expected to miss the first few weeks of the 2024 season because of his injury, it's unlikely Kendricks would retain a starting job upon the former's return from rehabilitation.

That would have relegated Kendricks to backup duties, as he stated.

Once the Cowboys lost veteran linebacker Leighton Vander Esch to retirement because of injury, the door was open for Kendricks to assume a featured role.

Having Zimmer there ultimately helped, too.

In response, the Niners inked former Green Bay Packers linebacker De'Vondre Campbell to help plug the gap in Greenlaw's absence.

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