In Greenlaw's First Game, 49ers Rookie Looked Like a Playmaker

Fifth-round pick out of Arkansas stood out at linebacker in first exhibition, even while making some mistakes

Rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw had a nice pro debut in the 49ers’ first exhibition game last weekend, at one point making tackles on four straight plays.

He finished the game with six tackles (tied for most on the team), including one for a loss, and impressed his coaches and teammates with the way he appeared to be locked in, totally into the flow of the game.

Said Greenlaw, to “All I could think of during the game is what the coaches continue to emphasize: ‘Do your job. Do your assignment. Go play football.’ I didn’t find out until after the game I had four straight tackles during our first drive. I didn’t even realize it. I was just going out there and playing football. At that point in time, it was about not letting them score.”

Greenlaw, a fifth-round pick this spring out of Arkansas, remains in the running to secure a starting job.

As Kyle Madson of Niners Wire noted this week, Greenlaw was good against the run, good against the pass and good on special teams.

For the Razorbacks last year, he played nine games (missing some time with a high ankle sprain) and had 80 tackles, including 6½ for loss, two sacks and two interceptions. The previous season had 103 tackles.

Greenlaw said this week he knows he made some mental errors in his first game, and has started to feel the rigors of training camp after so many days of all-out effort in practices.

But, he said playing in his first pro game was a dream come true.

“It didn’t really hit me until I put on the uniform and looked in the mirror,” he said. “I can’t describe the feeling. The vibe of an NFL game is different than going out to practice. When I put those pads on, it was ‘go’ time. There was no more talking. It was time for action.”

And so far, Greenlaw’s action is making people take notice.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh says Greenlaw needs to “clean up some details,” but says Greenlaw finally getting the chance to learn from his mistakes in game situations is invaluable.

“Getting those scars, that’s a good thing,” said Saleh.

Greenlaw will get a chance to continue making a positive impression in practices this week against the Broncos, and then a second exhibition game in Denver Monday night.

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