Dre Greenlaw

49ers' Greenlaw acknowledges fine line, believes he's not dirty player

NBC Universal, Inc. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan reveals he tried not to lose his mind about the Philadelphia Eagles security chief’s involvement in the Dre Greenlaw sideline altercation Sunday.

SANTA CLARA — Linebacker Dre Greenlaw fully realizes the impact he has on his 49ers teammates with his aggressive playing style.

On Wednesday, he said he understands the downside, too.

“It’s a fine line,” Greenlaw said, three days after he was ejected in the third quarter of the 49ers’ 42-19 victory due to a brief skirmish with a Philadelphia Eagles staff member.

“I got to be better in those situations. I don’t want to hurt the team, don’t want to cause flags and stuff like that. Just got to be smarter and avoid it. I’m not too gone when I’m playing. I definitely understand, like, ‘All right.’”

Greenlaw initially was penalized for picking up Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith around the waist and throwing the 170-pound receiver hard to the ground. 

“When I was throwing him, I kind of felt myself trying to ease up because he was kind of light,” Greenlaw said. “So I was just trying to get him down. That’s the best way I know to try to get him down.

“I tried to ease up a little bit, but was I surprised (the flag) was thrown? Probably not.”

It was the ninth unnecessary roughness penalty in Greenlaw’s five-year career and his third flag for an illegal hit this season. Greenlaw was ejected from a game last season for a hit on Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert as he was sliding.

“I ain’t no dirty player,” Greenlaw said. “I play by the rules. I mean, just because you tackle a little physical doesn’t make you a dirty player.”

Greenlaw acknowledges it's a fine line between playing the game with aggression and doing something that warrants a 15-yard penalty.

“I love it when I see a player that’s just playing full of emotion and is ready to go out there and smack everything,” he said. “That’s going to turn me up, too. I don’t think it’s being dirty.”

In the immediate aftermath of the play, Eagles security chief Dom DiSandro escalated the incident when he put his hands on Greenlaw along the sideline.

Then, Greenlaw responded with a glancing swipe to DiSandro’s face. Greenlaw was ejected from the game, and DiSandro was removed from the Eagles’ sideline.

Greenlaw said he and DiSandro exchanged apologies through intermediaries, including 49ers general manager John Lynch.

“He seemed like a genuine guy, seemed like a guy everybody loved in the building,” Greenlaw said. “Honestly, I hate that it escalated and went to that. That’s nothing I’ve been a part of or seen in a game.”

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