Greenlaw addresses hit on Herbert that led to ejection


After everyone on Twitter was buzzing about Dre Greenlaw’s ejection in the 49ers’ win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 10, the linebacker publicly addressed the controversial call for the first time on Friday. 

The helmet-to-helmet collision with Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert initially drew a penalty flag from the officials, who after deliberating, ultimately opted to eject Greenlaw

While players, fans and everyone in between gave their two cents on what they witnessed, Greenlaw broke down his vantage point and reasoning behind his actions. 

“I’m just trying to go in with my shoulder to try and get a hit and just somehow, it happened so fast, it just came closer than what I expected,” Greenlaw told reporters on Friday. “It was just like a bang-bang play. I definitely did not mean to get ejected or hurt anybody. But that’s part of football.”

During the play, Herbert scrambled up the middle and tried to dive forward before being tackled from behind by 49ers safety Jimmie Ward. But Ward’s hit launched the young quarterback forward, and Greenlaw’s helmet then collided with Herberts as they both went down. 

“Yeah I mean he got pushed forward so it just sucks that it happened,” Greenlaw added. “You try to do everything right by the book but you’re playing fast, something like that is bound to happen. He definitely got pushed forward so it made it even worse.” 

NFL senior vice president of officiating Walt Anderson spoke to The Athletic's Matt Barrows about the call and why the league office deemed the penalty "flagrant."

Basically, the timing, the manner and the fact that Herbert already was down (from Ward's tackle), among other reasons, played a factor in the decision. 

Greenlaw said in the moment, he couldn’t tell that Herbert was sliding. All he knew was that it was third down and there were 38 seconds left in the first half, so getting the tackle was his top priority. 

“I saw him going chest-forward and I tried to turn my shoulder just so I wouldn’t use my head or put my body on him," Greenlaw said. "But just bang-bang, yeah.” 

Immediately after being tossed from the contest, Greenlaw took to social media to express his frustrations with the call. 

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Shortly after the game, Kyle Shanahan and several of Greenlaw's teammates, including Nick Bosa and Ward, had a similar reaction and didn't hesitate to have Greenlaw's back. That meant a lot to him. 

“It's big time," Greenlaw said. "They know how I play and how I practice. That’s just how I practice. I don’t try to hurt anybody in practice, I don’t try to hurt my teammates, we’re just playing football and going out there to win and get better. I [try to] put my team in the best position possible so they know that’s what my mindset is and that’s how I’m going to give it so I appreciate them for just having my back." 

As far as any further punishment goes, Greenlaw said he expects maybe a fine, but hasn't heard anything yet. 

For now, Greenlaw and the 49ers are focused on their Week 11 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City on "Monday Night Football." 

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