FEBRUARY 15: Greenlaw has already undergone surgery. The Pro Bowl defender went under the knife for what NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport calls a successful surgery Thursday. While this injury obviously occurred at a historically inopportune time for the 49ers, Greenlaw is expected to make a full recovery.
FEBRUARY 12: The 49ers lost Dre Greenlaw in unusual fashion midway through last night’s Super Bowl loss. As many feared upon witnessing the injury, the fifth-year linebacker now faces a lengthy recovery.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed after the game that Greenlaw suffered a torn Achilles on Sunday. After a 49ers punt, Greenlaw went down while making his way from the sidelines back onto the field. The non-contact injury left him in need of being carted off the field, and he was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the contest.
The 26-year-old missed the regular season finale with Achilles tendonitis, an ailment which lingered through the postseason. Coupled with the various other injuries he played through during the year, Greenlaw’s ability to simply dress for the Super Bowl drew praise. Given his health situation heading into the game, however, it comes as little surprise he was ultimately forced to leave.
Again partnering with Fred Warner as part of arguably the league’s top linebacker tandem, Greenlaw had a productive 2023 campaign while battling through injury. In 15 contests, he recorded 120 tackles, 1.5 sacks and four pass deflections. He remained a key playmaker in the postseason, recording a pair of interceptions (including a game-winner in the divisional round) en route to the Super Bowl. The former fifth-rounder registered three tackles on Sunday before suffering the injury.
Oren Burks filled in at linebacker the rest of the way, and he played a role on a San Francisco defense which kept Kansas City’s offense in check for much of the game. Greenlaw’s absence was no doubt acutely felt, however, down the stretch and in overtime in particular when the Chiefs pulled off the victory. Burks is a pending free agent, but Greenlaw is under contract for 2024 as a result of the extension he signed early in the 2022 campaign.
The latter will now turn his attention to a long recovery process in the hopes of being able to suit up by the start of next season. His ability to return to form when on the field will be a key factor in determining his value on another new contract with San Francisco (which has Warner on the books at a cap hit of $24MM-plus over the next three years) or an another team. His rehab process will be worth monitoring over the offseason.