49ers' Dre Greenlaw steps into spotlight after Kwon Alexander's injury

49ers' Dre Greenlaw steps into spotlight after Kwon Alexander's injury

Although linebacker Dre Greenlaw has been a starter for the 49ers in their base defense as a rookie, he just became infinitely more important to the team’s hopes this season.

The 49ers invested a lot in veteran free-agent Kwon Alexander, and in the club’s first eight games he proved to be worth every penny.

But Alexander’s season came to an abrupt end on Thursday night when he tore his pectoral late in the third quarter of the 49ers’ 28-25 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Without Alexander on the field, Arizona scored 11 points, including an 88-yard touchdown pass from Kyler Murray to Andy Isabella.

“We don’t like the way it ended,” Greenlaw said. “We feel like we should have done a lot better, especially on defense.

“We may be 8-0, but a lot of guys are down. We just want to play good, perfect ball. We know we have to go out there every night and give it our all. It feels good to be 8-0, but at the same time, we know we could have let one slip.”

Greenlaw produced his biggest play of his rookie season Thursday, when he threw Murray for a sack in the second quarter. He will get plenty more opportunities to contribute the rest of the season.

“For me personally, the guys tell me to be ready at all times, be patient, do my job, and stay consistent and everything is going to happen,” Greenlaw said. “I did my job, and it happened the way it was supposed to.

“I’m just trying to do whatever I can for my team.”

Greenlaw, a fifth-round draft pick from Arkansas, registered three tackles on defense, as well as another tackle on special teams.

He has a large role to fill in Alexander’s absence. Alexander and middle linebacker Fred Warner have formed a dynamic presence for the 49ers as the club’s top two tacklers. Warner led the 49ers with nine tackles and had a pass defensed on Thursday.

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Greenlaw is slated to take over Alexander's spot at weakside linebacker. Greenlaw's spot at strong-side linebacker on base downs will be filled by Azeez Al-Shaair or Mark Nzeocha.

Greenlaw’s elevated role comes at a time when the 49ers get four days off before reporting back to work on Tuesday to begin preparations to face the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, Nov. 11. The 49ers (8-0) enter their most difficult stretch of the season, with a return matchup against Arizona in Week 11, followed by matchups against Green Bay, and at Baltimore and New Orleans.

“We just have to make sure we all get healthy and make sure we got everybody ready to rock and roll,” Greenlaw said. “Take it one game at a time, make sure we prepare, make sure we’re healthy and we’re ready to play ball.”

How Jimmy Garoppolo's impact on 49ers' offense goes beyond numbers

How Jimmy Garoppolo's impact on 49ers' offense goes beyond numbers

Despite the 49ers finishing with a 13-3 record and advancing to Super Bowl LIV, few NFL pundits seem willing to give Jimmy Garoppolo any credit for the team’s success.

The quarterback needed just eight pass attempts to defeat the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, as San Francisco rode a dominant run game and suffocating defensive performance to a 37-20 victory.

Fox Sports 1’s Colin Cowherd isn’t among the detractors and voiced his support for Jimmy G ahead of a Super Bowl showdown with reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes.

“He carried this team in the middle of the season when they fell apart physically,” Cowherd said on "The Herd" this week. “I’m not a stat guy, I’m an eye guy. Watch the games.”

The success of the run game for the Niners this season didn’t necessitate a lot of pass-heavy games, but Garoppolo still finished eighth among qualified NFL quarterbacks in passer rating.

[RELATED: 49ers taking entire staff to Super Bowl]

When the 49ers have ended up in a shootout this year, Garoppolo has stepped up.

When they’ve needed him to just manage the game and make the occasional throw downfield, Garoppolo has stepped up.

No matter what the scenario, Garoppolo has delivered and this 49ers team wouldn't be anywhere near the Super Bowl without his steady leadership guiding the offense.

Jimmy G now has the chance to solidify himself among the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks when he and the Niners take the field against the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami for Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium.

49ers taking entire staff to Miami for Super Bowl 54, Jed York reveals

49ers taking entire staff to Miami for Super Bowl 54, Jed York reveals

The 49ers will fly to Miami on Sunday to play in the NFL franchise’s seventh Super Bowl. Despite this being a semi-regular thing, CEO Jed York isn’t treating it that way.

York said Friday that he’s bringing all full-time staff to Miami for Super Bowl week and treating them to the game. He even mentioned bringing interns.

That’s, you know, a lot of people on the 49ers’ dime.

“We're taking a lot of people. We wanted to make sure that our entire staff had the opportunity to go,” York said in a meeting with local reporters. “Everybody from [head coach Kyle Shanahan to general manager John Lynch] all the way down to interns, everyone's been a part of this, and we wanted to make sure they're there to help and also celebrate the moment that hopefully gets us over the hump."

That’s an unusual benefit for support staff outside football operations, one that will allow everyone involved with the 49ers to enjoy a week basking in the team’s achievements leading up to Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium.

[RELATED: Jed York felt 49ers could reach Super Bowl when they drafted Nick Bosa]

The 49ers are trying to win their sixth Super Bowl title, which would tie them with the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots for the most in NFL history. The Chiefs are currently 1.5-point favorites in this clash of Titans.