49ers surprised linebacker Dre Greenlaw by drafting him despite canceled visit


Arkansas linebacker Dre Greenlaw wasn’t expecting a call from the 49ers during the 2019 NFL draft after his top-30 visit was canceled, but apparently, his contact with the team at the Senior Bowl was enough. 

Greenlaw wasn’t even on the 49ers-coached team at the Senior Bowl in January, but they did learn enough about the linebacker to select him in the fifth round Saturday.

Greenlaw was quite surprised.

“I was supposed to go down for a 30 visit with them, and they canceled the 30 visit,” Greenlaw said. “That really hurt my heart, and I was like, I thought then that it was done, and it panned out they still wanted me. I’m blessed."

Linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans apparently learned enough about Greenlaw from one day of practice and watching game film.

“I had a lot of contact with Coach Ryans as far as at the Senior Bowl,” Greenlaw said. “We played against them. I was with the other team, though, and he just said he really liked my film, and he saw some of my practice tape and liked some of the stuff I did, and that's kind of the only contact I had.” 

Because Greenlaw went without a visit to the 49ers' facility, he never has been to the state of California, but he's excited to get started learning from a linebacker with whom he's very familiar. 

“I'm very familiar with Kwon Alexander,” Greenlaw said. “I know he's just got there this year, and I know he's a great athlete and a great linebacker, and I'm ready to learn as much as possible. I'm ready to absorb it all.”

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Keeping with the 49ers' plan to draft versatile players, Greenlaw has played safety, which has given him experience in coverage. 

“Definitely coming from that safety spot and having to cover, learn coverages, it's just helped me with my all-around game, knowing the game,” Greenlaw said. “I played corner, and just having that knowledge of what everybody else around me is doing, when I kind of got to that linebacker spot, I was able to pick it up fast because I was able to understand what the defense, the position I was supposed to be in. 

“So, just having that previous knowledge and that skill set of covering people and bringing it to the linebacker spot, it made my job as far as coverage that much easier.”

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