How Dre Greenlaw's technique saved 49ers' win vs. Seahawks by inches

How Dre Greenlaw's technique saved 49ers' win vs. Seahawks by inches

Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister was at the center of two critical plays against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night. They happened on consecutive downs, and neither of them went his team's way.

With 15 seconds remaining in the game and the Seahawks trailing the 49ers 26-21, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson moved to his left on 3rd-and-goal and targeted Hollister in the end zone. Hollister was covered by San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner, who made a lot of contact with the tight end as the pass fell incomplete. No penalty was given, however, nor was there a booth review.

After the game, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron defended both decisions, saying that a review actually was performed, but what occurred was, "nothing which rises to the level of a foul based on visual evidence." NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Donte Whitner echoed a similar sentiment.

"It's been going like that all year long," Whitner said of the controversial no-call. "Pass interference has not been replayed a lot this season, and when it has been replayed, it really hasn't been overturned. I don't think that it was a bad play."

While a pass interference penalty in that situation would have given Seattle 1st-and-Goal from the 1-yard-line, the Seahawks were the beneficiary of a questionable call that went against San Francisco on its previous drive. Had offensive linemen Ben Garland not been assessed a borderline-at-best personal foul, the 49ers likely would never have given Seattle the ball back.

"I thought that was a bad call because [Garland] thinks that everybody behind him is still running with the football, and he's just trying to make a block for the offensive guy that he thinks has the football," Whitner added. "So, I think it's give-and-take when it comes to penalties. It boiled down to the last play of the game. They had an opportunity to score and they just didn't."

Enter critical play No. 2.

On fourth down, Wilson went back to the same Hollister well, and Warner was involved again. But this time, it was rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw who was in the spotlight.

Wilson found Hollister on a quick inward slant, which he caught on the 1-yard-line. In shades of the 49ers' Week 15 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, it appeared the 49ers might lose in the last second by the thinnest of margins. Greenlaw, though, ensured history did not repeat itself, lowering a shoulder into Hollister to stop him just short of the goal line.

Game -- and regular season -- over.

[RELATED: Watch 49ers stuff Seahawks at goal line to win NFC West]

After watching Falcons receiver Julio Jones just barely break the plane of the goal line two weeks earlier, Greenlaw used a different technique that prevented the same result.

"They teach you down there on the goal line in those situations -- in those scenarios when you're trying to keep a guy out of the end zone and it might be the last play of the game -- to not hit him low," Whitner explained. "Jimmie Ward hit [Jones] low at the end of the Atlanta game. Greenlaw stayed high, caught him at the right moment, put his head to the side -- didn't go helmet-to-helmet -- and kept him one centimeter out of the end zone. 

"That's a great job of being on the details by a young guy, and flying around all day and coming out with 13 tackles in the football game."

It wasn't the first play of the 49ers' season that was decided by inches (or less), and moving into the playoffs, it likely won't be the last. But due to those two critical stops against Seattle and Hollister, San Francisco won't have to worry about that during wild-card weekend.

Stephen Jackson insists Colin Kaepernick is owed apology by 'fake' NFL

Stephen Jackson insists Colin Kaepernick is owed apology by 'fake' NFL

On Saturday, five days after George Floyd died while in police custody in Minnesota and with protests raging across the country, the NFL released a statement.

The words from the NFL didn't go over well.

In Twitter-speak, the tweet is getting ratio'd. More than 24,000 replies to just over 4,000 retweets.

NFL players Kenny Stills, Eric Reid, and filmaker Ava DuVernay had strong reactions to the NFL's tweet.

Former Warriors forward Stephen Jackson, who considered Floyd a brother and called him "Twin," did not appreciate the NFL's statement either.

"That's so fake, man," Jackson told The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears on Monday. "It's so fake, it's so fake, it's so fake."

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Jackson believes the league should have apologized to former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during the national anthem in 2016 to raise awareness for social injustices.

"Like, why even do it?" Jackson said. "We know it's not real. We know it's not real. You're making yourself look bad. That's one of those situations where they shouldn't even say nothing, bro. They shouldn't even say nothing. ... If anything, they need to apologize to Kaepernick. If they're gonna respond on this type of stuff, start it off with an apology to Kaepernick. Then maybe we'll accept it."

Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL since 2016. In a column posted by CNN over the weekend, former NFL executive Joe Lockhart said one team official told him they feared losing 20 percent of their season-ticket holders if they signed Kaepernick.

Kaepernick worked out for teams last year, but remains a free agent.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

How Colton McKivitz earned 49ers' prized 'gold helmet' before NFL draft

How Colton McKivitz earned 49ers' prized 'gold helmet' before NFL draft

When general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan took over the 49ers in 2017, they established an ideal set of criteria for potential draft-eligible prospects. An array of attributes are evaluated, from off-the-field character to football IQ.

49ers vice president of player personnel Adam Peters recently told The Athletic's Matt Barrows that fifth-round pick Colton McKivitz was one of around 15 potential draftees the team deemed worthy of this "gold helmet" designation.

“Gold helmet is not something we give out a lot,” Peters told Barrows. “The person really has to be exemplary, really has to stand out.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

McKivitz is a unique personality to say the least, as his father became famous around the West Virginia campus for wearing various animal skins as hats at every Mountaineer game.

But McKivitz also was a National Honor Society recipient and started 47 of 50 games in his collegiate career, even earning Big 12 Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year honors in 2019.

[RELATED: Trent Williams explains why 49ers were his ideal trade destination]

McKivitz has an aggressive reputation on the field, but his former offensive line coach and family friend says the 49ers couldn't be getting a better all-around person.

“You’re not going to find a better human being as far as moral conduct is concerned,” Brion Schiappa said. “He will never embarrass the 49ers. Ever.”

San Francisco dealt with injuries across the offensive line in 2019, and will be counting on McKivitz's versatility in 2020 for depth.