SANTA CLARA — The 49ers do not want linebacker Dre Greenlaw to make any dramatic adjustments to the way he plays the game.
Mostly, they are fond of him just the way he is.
“I love playing alongside him because I know what he’s going to bring every time he’s out there,” 49ers All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner said.
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“(He’s) an enforcer, a tone-setter out there, delivering those hits and flying to the football every single play. You need that.”
The only thing the 49ers do not need are 15-yard penalties and to see him get ejected — as he did with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter of the Week 13 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Greenlaw was flagged for his ninth unnecessary roughness penalty of his five-year NFL career when he picked up 170-pound receiver DeVonta Smith and tossed him hard to the ground.
Then, when an Eagles staff member entered the fray and put his hand on him, Greenlaw took a swipe and was thrown out of the game.
San Francisco 49ers
“If you get a penalty, you’re wrong,” Warner said. “If you don’t get the penalty, you’re doing a great job. Dre knows he’s got to obviously be smart, and guys are looking to rile him up out there. I think for the most part, he does a great job.”
Coach Kyle Shanahan said he believes Greenlaw does a good job of playing with fire and aggression while mostly playing on the correct side of the line.
“I think Dre's as good at it as anyone I've been around,” Shanahan said. “I think Dre is our enforcer. He is our most physical hitter. We’ve got a lot of guys who hit, but I think he shows up more than others.
“Dre is not a dirty player at all. He plays one way.”
Defensive end Nick Bosa believes Greenlaw’s tenacity, physicality and mentality are important ingredients to the 49ers’ defense.
“When you turn on the tape, you see guys, if they take a hit early in the game, they’re looking for him and they’re getting down way faster than they normally would,,” Bosa said.
Bosa said there have been games in which typically hard runners are not nearly as determined to pick up extra yards after feeling some punishment from Greenlaw.
“You see running backs just call it quits early in games,” Bosa said. “You don’t feel them the rest of the game because of stuff our defense does, and Dre is a leader in that.”