SANTA CLARA -- Linebacker Dre Greenlaw, of course, was thrilled for his teammate and friend.
And he also sees the 49ers’ contract extension with linebacker Fred Warner as a promising sign for all players on their first contracts with the organization.
The 49ers and Warner came to terms on a five-year, $95 million contract extension to make him the highest-paid player at his position in the NFL one week before the opening of training camp.
“Once he got it, I was happy,” Greenlaw said of his All-Pro teammate. “There’s nobody in our program that deserves it more than him. He’s first one in and last one out. Just to be able to play next to somebody who’s dedicated to the game and loves it like that.
“And just to see somebody be able to reap the reward that they worked for, makes you want to go harder and makes you want to look at him even more because he’s doing the right things.”
Greenlaw, 24, is set to begin his third NFL season with the 49ers. Although he started 22 games in his career, this is his first time he enters the season as a starter. Greenlaw began his 2019 and ’20 as the backup to veteran Kwon Alexander. When Alexander sustained injuries, Greenlaw stepped in and performed.
Greenlaw's play made Alexander expendable. The 49ers traded Alexander to the New Orleans Saints last season at the trade deadline.
A 2019 fifth-round draft pick in Arkansas, Greenlaw registered 178 tackles in his first two seasons. He made the memorable fourth-down tackle of Seattle tight end Jacob Hollister at the goal line to lift the 49ers to the NFC West championship in Week 17 of his rookie season.
Greenlaw will be eligible for a contract extension of his own after the upcoming season, and he has high expectations to take his game to the next level. He said he has more confidence than ever and is excited for how first-year defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans plans to deploy him.
“I’m a lot more comfortable with the scheme and what DeMeco expects of us and the style he wants to play with,” Greenlaw said.