Dre Greenlaw demonstrates nose for football in 49ers preseason debut

Dre Greenlaw demonstrates nose for football in 49ers preseason debut

SANTA CLARA — In the 49ers' preseason opener, rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw continued to show why he was worthy of a fifth-round draft pick. 

The team sat most starters, including linebackers Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander, on Saturday night against the Dallas Cowboys, and that led to Greenlaw playing 29 defensive and 14 special-team tackles. Even when he wasn't credited for a tackle, he regularly was in very close proximity to the play.

Kyle Shanahan was complimentary of the rookie’s instincts.  

“Yeah, it’s showing up that way in camp, too,” the 49ers coach said after the game. ”He always seems to be around the ball in the run game and the pass game. From what I saw, he made a few plays out there, and I’m sure I’ll see a little more when I watch the tape, but seemed pretty encouraging how he played tonight.”

Greenlaw finished with five solo tackles, tied him with safety Marcel Harris for the team lead. Greenlaw’s enthusiasm is as apparent during practice as it was on the field during the game, but part of being a rookie is learning when and where to use it.

Early in the second quarter, Greenlaw was flagged for roughing the passer when the Cowboys were attempting to convert on fourth down. Dallas received a fresh set of downs, but on the next play, Greenlaw made up for his mistake by tackling running back Darius Jackson for a 4-yard loss. 

With that tackle, Greenlaw could begin to make 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh a believer. During training camp practices, Greenlaw delivered the loudest hit of a team drill when he laid into fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

Saleh obviously didn't approve of that hit in practice, and explained what he wanted to see from the rookie. 

“Protect the team,” Saleh said. “We’ll see what he does on Saturday. If he knocks down the Cowboy runners that way, then I’ll be a believer. In practice, the running backs aren’t always thinking that you’re going to come up there and just knock them down. He still has to climb that hurdle for me in terms of tackling and getting guys on the ground, showing that knockback.”
Saleh did speak highly of Greenlaw’s progress in learning the 49ers' defensive scheme. Prior to facing the Cowboys, he detailed how the rookie hasn't been limited to playing one linebacker role.

“Good learner,” Saleh said. “You’ll see him, he’s playing SAM, he’s playing WILL, so he’s going back and forth with regards to base and nickel. He’s doing a very good job understanding what his issues are within the scheme.

[RELATED: 49ers takeaways: What we learned in 17-9 preseason-opener win vs. Cowboys]

“Understanding the alignment part, that’s not completely clean, but it’s very close for a rookie. At this point in camp, you have your entire system that we can call anything at any time, and he’s got to be on it. Where in a game plan, it’s much more specific, so it would be easier for him to align and do all those things once the season starts. But, for him with what we’re asking him to do, I think he’s doing a really nice job from a learning aspect.”

It remains to be seen how much playing time Greenlaw will receive during the regular season, but it appears he's well on his way to being noticed by the 49ers' coaching staff. 

Richard Sherman allowed first deep pass on him all season in 49ers' win

Richard Sherman allowed first deep pass on him all season in 49ers' win

Richard Sherman mans the left side of the 49ers' defensive backs. He doesn't shadow receivers, but when a trip to the Super Bowl is on the line, game plans can change a bit.

Sherman, 31, followed Davante Adams, 27, on occasion but the majority of the cornerback's snaps came from the left side in the 49ers' 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. That includes a 65-yard bomb where Adams spun Sherman around at the line of scrimmage. 

That play had Sherman and former star cornerback Darrell Revis chirping on Twitter after the 49ers' win. Sherman is known more as a zone specialist, though he has proven time and time again that he can cover top receivers when locking up in man-to-man. 

The reality is, even in Sherman's ninth season in the NFL, he rarely gets beat deep. In fact, Sunday was the first time all season that Sherman allowed a pass of 20-plus yards, according to Next Gen Stats. Entering the NFC title game, QBs were 0-for-7 on such passes against Sherman. 

Sherman might not be the fastest cornerback in the league, but he still is one of the game's best. He sealed San Francisco's victory when fittingly, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers tried to go deep to Adams again. It didn't work this time.

[RELATED: 49ers laud Sherman's 'fitting' game-sealing interception]

Sherman finished the night with three tackles, one interception and one pass defensed. According to Pro Football Focus, he now has a career passer rating allowed of just 41.2. 

The veteran cornerback will has his work cut out for him in the Super Bowl as he lines up against Patrick Mahomes' array of speedy weapons in Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson. If anyone is going to step up the bright lights in Miami, though, it's Sherman.

49ers will wear white jerseys, gold pants vs. Chiefs in Super Bowl 54

49ers will wear white jerseys, gold pants vs. Chiefs in Super Bowl 54

The 49ers will wear their traditional road jerseys in Super Bowl LIV.

The 49ers are scheduled to take the field with their white jerseys and gold pants when they face the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 2 in Miami, NBC Sports Bay Area has confirmed.

The Chiefs are anointed the home team -- it rotates between conferences -- and will wear their dark jerseys.

The 49ers wore their popular all-white alternate uniforms for the Week 17 game at the Seattle Seahawks, and there was a brief thought the team could go back to that combination for the Super Bowl.

It was not immediately known if the 49ers petitioned the NFL to wear their all-whites.

The 49ers will be making their seventh appearance in a Super Bowl, and they won the two previous times they wore white tops and gold pants.

The 49ers’ first Super Bowl came with that combination, as the 49ers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 26-21, in Super Bowl XVI in Pontiac, Michigan.

[RELATEDGrade on offense, defense in NFC title win over Packers]

The 49ers defeated the Denver Broncos, 55-10, in Super Bowl XXIV in New Orleans while wearing the white/gold combination.

The 49ers have twice played Super Bowls in Miami. The 49ers beat the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII with Joe Montana’s late touchdown pass to John Taylor while wearing red tops and gold pants.

And while routing the San Diego Chargers, 49-26, in Super Bowl XXIX, the 49ers wore their home throwbacks that consisted of red jerseys and white pants.