49ers Offseason

Campbell's 49ers happiness makes sense to linebackers coach

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SANTA CLARA — A few days after 49ers linebacker De’Vondre Campbell expressed his happiness with his new team on social media, his position coach shared that the feeling is mutual.

Linebackers coach Johnny Holland spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday and shared how Campbell quickly has found his place on the field along side Fred Warner. The 49ers signed the veteran free agent to a one-year contract to help bridge the gap as Dre Greenlaw recovers from Achilles surgery. 

“He’s been awesome,” Holland said. “I’ve been watching him play for a long time, when he was a rookie in 2016 in Atlanta. It’s his ninth year in the league now and he’s gravitating to our system. He has such a good awareness with coverage and his ability to still run and play.

"We are excited to have him and he will fit good into our system.”

Campbell spent his first five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons before he received his first All-Pro nod in 2021 while a member of the Green Bay Packers. The Minnesota product has racked up 779 career tackles — 507 solo, 40 for a loss, seven interceptions, eight forced fumbles, 9.5 quarterback sacks and 22 hits.

It's already clear Campbell is happy with his decision to sign with the 49ers.

Maybe the most intriguing part of Campbell’s statement is that at 30 years old, the linebacker once again is having fun playing the game of football. Holland said there is good reason that players find enjoyment in the 49ers' system.

“We try to build culture here,” Holland said. “We have fun playing the game and we are detailed in what we do. We try not to have players play in the gray area and give them exactly what they are supposed to do. As a player, that’s what you want, where you can capitalize on your ability and be the best you can be. We are seeing that in him and he is flourishing in his ability.”

There is no lack of evidence that players, especially on the defensive side of the ball, can thrive in the 49ers' system, even on a one-year contract. Holland notes that Campbell is a student of the game, which will make his transition even more seamless in a scheme where there is less thinking and more "doing."

“Our culture is that we want to be physical, we want to be violent, and want to put it on tape,” Holland said. “If you’re here, that’s what you’re going to see with our players and how we play defense. Most players want to play that way, but we demand it and it shows up on tape, how we play.

“I’m sure players are excited to play in the system. I always tease our players, ‘I wish I could have played in a system like this when I was a player.’ They get a lot out of it.”

The 49ers have several linebackers that will help fill in as needed until Greenlaw makes his return, but it appears Campbell is the front-runner for the role. The 6-foot-3, 232 pound defender might have a slightly different skill-set but the passion for the game is something that Holland appreciates.

“He has been around the game for a long time and he’s going to give us a veteran presence out there,” Holland said. “We’re really excited to have him.”

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