Dre Greenlaw

How Greenlaw's close bond with Warner led to Pro Bowl-type ascension

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The 49ers arguably have the best linebacker duo in the NFL, and it took years of hard work for Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw to become the players they are today.

San Francisco's two star linebackers joined NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco for an exclusive interview on the latest episode of "49ers Talk," where they discussed how their close bond came to be after the 49ers selected them in the third and fifth rounds of the 2018 and 2019 NFL Drafts respectively.

"I think it kind of comes naturally," Greenlaw told Maiocco. "If you're around each other all the time, if you're in a classroom, me being a younger guy not knowing everything or understanding stuff, just being able to ask questions. He does know most of the defense, so it's naturally easy to go up and ask 'Hey, how's this ...?'

"He mentioned it's natural, it's not something that's got to be forced at all," Warner added.

While their bond began to form on the field, it was their relationship off of it that further solidified the connection.

"You just start working with each other and in the offseason, you start lifting with each other, you start grinding and you go on the field and before you know it, you're in the classroom in the offseason, season and you know you have a good feel for each other."

Warner believes Greenlaw's decision to remain in the Bay Area throughout the offseason played a big role in his counterpart's ascension to a Pro Bowl-caliber player, even if he has yet to receive the honor.

"I think early on he was trying to figure out what his offseason program looked like, what's the best thing he could be doing for himself," Warner recalled. "Ever since I've been here, I've trained here at the facility year-round. This is where I train, this is home for me and I feel like when he started coming with me and training here, that's when things really started to take a turn.

"I think it started with last year when (he) started training here year-round, he committed to 'you know what, Fred? I'm going to be here with you all throughout the offseason' and I feel like last year he took a huge jump with his game and became a Pro Bowl-type player. But obviously, they don't want to give him the recognition. It'll come. I feel like he took that jump last year and of course this year as well. And me and him being together year-round, it's like we know each other like the back of our hands."

In five seasons with the 49ers, Greenlaw has earned the nickname "Big Play Dre" for the many game-changing plays he's made on the field, including two huge interceptions in San Francisco's divisional-round win over the Green Bay Packers.

While he still might be one of the more underrated players in the game today, Greenlaw's ascension over the years is undeniable, and the relationship with his three-time All-Pro teammate is one of the reasons why.

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