How 49ers' Dre Greenlaw played final snap almost perfect in West clincher

How 49ers' Dre Greenlaw played final snap almost perfect in West clincher

SANTA CLARA -- Rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw made the defensive play of the year Sunday to provide the 49ers with some much-needed rest and set up a favorable postseason itinerary.

Greenlaw stopped Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister just inches short of the goal line in the closing seconds to preserve a 26-21 victory at CenturyLink Field and earn the 49ers the NFC West title and home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

Does Greenlaw understand the significance of the play?

“A little bit,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s like, I mean, I don’t know, I’m just a rookie, man. I don’t know really what I did. I’m just playing football. That’s it.”

Greenlaw, making his eighth consecutive start in place of injured starting weakside linebacker Kwon Alexander, registered his second straight 13-tackle game. None of his stops was as important as his last.

“It was a great play altogether,” Greenlaw said. “Great execution by everybody. The game was on the line and we needed a stop, and it was to determine whether or not we’d be playing this week or just practicing.

“So everybody’s happy about it and I got a lot of encouragement from my teammates, a lot of praise from them. Personally, it just feels good to be able to do it and put it on tape and do it for my teammates and coaches, and let us all reap the benefits of it.”

On a fourth-and-goal with 12 seconds remaining, 5.5 yards from the end zone, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson unloaded quickly to Hollister, who lined up outside the left tackle, and ran a quick slant. Greenlaw initially shuffled a few steps to his left to cover running back Travis Homer out of the backfield.

Hollister got inside of 49ers linebacker Fred Warner and caught the pass just inside the 2-yard line. Greenlaw immediately saw the play develop and shifted his attention to Hollister. Greenlaw stepped up to hit Hollister with authority, keeping him out of the end zone by mere inches.

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Greenlaw executed the design of defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s call to near perfection.

“There are always things you can do better on every play,” Greenlaw said. “You’re not perfect. No specific thing I could’ve done better. Footwork, eyes, all that type of stuff. There’s never a play where you go, ‘Wow, that was 100 percent.’ But at the same time, I did enough.

“I did my job. I did my assignment. I mean, I was 100 percent on assignment, 100 percent on job. If you wanted to be just a (jerk) and be critical, you could say, ‘Hey, you don’t have to back up as much,’ because I was maybe an inch or two in the end zone. But at the end of the day, as long as the play is made, it’s all right. It worked out.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom 'doesn't anticipate' normal NFL games in fall

California Governor Gavin Newsom 'doesn't anticipate' normal NFL games in fall

President Donald Trump reportedly told sports commissioners and top executives Saturday that he believes the NFL should start on time with fans returning to stadiums by August despite the coronavirus outbreak.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom doesn't share the same thoughts.

The governor was asked about Trump's reported prediction, and said he doesn't envision California having made enough progress against the virus for it to be business as usual for the NFL come fall.

“I’m not anticipating that happening in this state,” Newsom said Saturday. “We’ve all seen the headlines over the last couple days in Asia, where they opening up certain businesses, and now they’re starting to roll back those openings because they’re starting seeing some spread and there’s a boomerang. One has to be very cautious here, one has to be careful not to overpromise.

"It's interesting, I have a lot of friends that work in Major League Baseball and the NFL, they've been asking me -- in fact, a well-known athlete -- a football player -- just asked me if he expects to come back. I said, 'I would move very cautiously in that expectation.' "

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Newsom is making sure to prioritize safety and caution above all else before letting sports return.

“Our decision on that basis here in the State of California will be determined by the facts, will be determined by the health experts, will be determined by our ability to meet this moment and bend the curve, and have the appropriate community surveillance and testing to confidently determine whether that's appropriate," Newsom said. "Right now, I’m just focusing on the immediate, but that’s not something I anticipate happening in the next few months.”

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The truth of the matter is that no one knows how long this will last or when sports will be able to return to packed stadiums. The NFL is planning on starting the schedule on time with fans in the stadium, but that might not be the case in California. With many epidemiologists expecting the virus to surge again the fall, the fate of the NFL's season is very much up in the air.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as well as a lead member of the White House's coronavirus taskforce, told Warriors star Steph Curry that sports can only safely return once the country as a whole has turned the corner from the outbreak and the medical system no longer is under strain.

As of Saturday, there were more than 270,000 cases of coronavirus in the United States and more than 7,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and NBC News reporting.

Watch DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Clelin Ferrell in joint workout

Watch DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Clelin Ferrell in joint workout

While the NFL offseason programs are postponed, many players are still working out to be ready for the time when the teams are able to get back to work in an organized setting.

In Miami, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Clelin Ferrell are working out with private defensive line coach Mark Hall.

Hall, who recently was a guest on the 49ers Insider Podcast, sent a video to NBC Sports Bay Area of the three players working out.

[RELATED49ers mailbag: Could Gore or Walker return in free agency?]

The 49ers recently traded Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and re-signed Armstead to a four-year, $84 million contract. Ferrell will enter his second season with the Las Vegas Raiders after being the club’s first-round selection at No. 4 overall in the 2019 draft.