San Francisco 49errs rookie Dre Greenlaw finished 2019 in style. The former Razorback linebacker made a crucial stop against Seattle’s Jacob Hollister at the one-yard line on Sunday. That sealed the game — and an NFC West title for the 49ers — to give them a first-round bye in the playoffs. It also gave San Francisco home field advantage through the NFC championship game.
This was arguably the top Pro Hog moment of the NFL regular season. It puts more of a national spotlight on Dre Greenlaw, a Fayetteville native, who became a fan favorite with the Hogs by playing so hard even as the program was falling to shambles around him.
In 2015, after all, he came firing out of the gates to pick up the these honors:
—SEC Freshman of the week (twice)
—SEC All Freshman team
—First team Freshman All-American
—SEC Defensive Freshman of the Year
By 2018, Greenlaw had achieved:
—2 interceptions against Texas A&M in September
—13 tackles against Alabama in October
—299 career tackles
—3 career interceptions
Although Dre Greenlaw never did earn All-SEC accolades, he did get drafted in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s putting together a stellar season, having racked up 92 tackles, and is on his way to 49ers fan favorite status as well.
In fact, Greenlaw was just named to the NFL All-Rookie team by Pro Football Focus.
“Coverage is where PFF really recognized Greenlaw,” USA Today’s Kyle Madsen wrote. “In a league where having linebackers that can cover is more paramount to defensive success than ever, Greenlaw was among the NFL’s best in 2019:
He was one of the best linebackers in the league at limiting receiving production. Among linebackers who were targeted 50 or more times this year, only Darius Leonard, Jayon Brown and Eric Kendricks allowed a lower passer rating than Greenlaw’s mark of 83.6.
NFL fans are starting to learn all about his amazing story, too:
DRE GREENLAW: FIVE AMAZING FACTS
- Greenlaw was one of 11 children. There was drug abuse in the family, an absent father, and at the end of the day, he essentially became an orphan. His siblings were split up in his grade school years and he lived in Little Rock, Marianna and other places before he settled in Fayetteville. He spent six years in foster homes. But he always made good grades while excelling in sports.
- “I was lonely a lot of nights, cried a lot of nights.” he said in an interview with Bo Mattingly. It may be rare to hear about a future NFL player who needs to “cry a lot of nights.” That definitely indicates he’s a thoughtful human being who happens to be a great football player.
- When Greenlaw got to Fayetteville, he was taken in by the Early family. The patriarch of the Early family happens to be Monticello native Brian Early, who used to work as the defensive coordinator at Fayetteville High School and as an analyst for the Razorbacks. is the defensive line coach for the University of Houston. Despite the fact that Brian Early recruited him when he was Defensive Line Coach at Arkansas State, Greenlaw chose Arkansas.
- And despite the fact that he turned his mentor down, in June of 2018, the Early’s officially adopted him. But they made sure it was his choice. Until then, for six years, many of his living decisions had been made for him.
Brian Early’s background
5. In 2015, the same year he was named to the SEC All-Freshman team he did something bigger. At a party, he saw someone drop something into a girl’s drink. When the guy tried to pull her out of the party, Greenlaw stepped in and stopped it from happening.
The young woman’s father didn’t go to the press about Greenlaw’s deed for fear of him getting in trouble for being underage at a beer drinking party. Later, he said: “Do me a favor and root for Dre. He’s a good kid with a good heart.”
That says a lot about Greenlaw and the father at the same time. It reminds us that despite the terrible things that happen time to time in our world, there are still good people.
Perhaps someone will make a movie about Greenlaw’s life one day, just as a movie was made about Brandon Burlsworth’s.
Razorback Nation should take pride in Dre Greenlaw. As the NFL is starting to notice, he’s a really good football player. But he’s a better man. In the same interview with Mattingly, he described himself as a “survivor.”
He’s not only a survivor, but he’s also a “winner.” He’s a winner on the football field and a winner in life. If you have sons, they should act like Dre Greenlaw. If you have daughters, you should be thankful for the Dre Greenlaws of the world.