The chaos has officially begun for the 2021 NFL season! A lot has happened all over the league. For IDP, it has been a pretty exciting day to see where players have landed. But, we’re here for the 2021 IDP breakout candidate series. Next man up is another linebacker, Dre Greenlaw of the San Francisco 49ers!
Dre Greenlaw, LB, San Francisco 49ers 2020 Statistics: 61 Solo, 25 Ast, 7 TFL, 2 QBH, 1 Sack and 1 PD
Dre Greenlaw is one of my favorite players to watch when I can catch a 49ers game. He’s a very talented linebacker. San Francisco was so lucky to grab him in the fifth round of 2019 NFL draft. He had a solid rookie season in 2019. He was able to snag 92 combined tackles according to Pro Football Reference. That came with sharing the snap load with Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander. His rookie season he played 725 defensive snaps, or 71%, for the 49ers in 16 games. Last season, in 2020, he played 699 defensive snaps, or 68%, in 13 games. Greenlaw struggled with injuries early on in the season. He also found himself on the COVID reserve later on in the season.
There’s one play that sticks out to me with Greenlaw. I think this is the one play that made me a fan. We all remember it. It was probably one of the most important games of the 2019 season for the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. It was week 17 of the 2019 season, Dre Greenlaw made ‘The Stop” along the goal line against Jacob Hollister of Seattle. I think this is the play the put the league on notice of what Greenlaw can be in San Francisco. He became a legend that night to 49ers fans. That play gave them the division and helped seal their path to the Super Bowl for that season. His play and bravado are just a couple reasons why I expect him to become a 2021 IDP breakout player.
— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) May 25, 2020
Greenlaw began his 2020 season as the starting SAM linebacker for San Francisco. He saw limited snaps while playing at this position because of how the 49ers ran their defense. But, after they shipped Kwon Alexander off to the Saints, Greenlaw became the starting WILL linebacker for the team. After the position switch, he was regularly registering 5+ tackles a game. He definitely was contributing for IDP managers with tackle points on a week to week basis. He was likely a regular starter in deeper leagues. Even in 12-team leagues, Greenlaw was probably rostered. He may have been a depth piece for some managers. He’s currently only rostered in 8% of Yahoo fantasy leagues. Dre is poised to become a 2021 IDP breakout player.
I've been thinking about this sequence since it happened. Dre Greenlaw won't be remembered because of the Verrett pick, but he is the reason the 49ers held strong here. First Dre stops Henderson, Kupp can't bring in the throw from Goff, and Verrett peels off to bring in the INT. pic.twitter.com/ZveXVtAz3X
— Jason Aponte (@JasonAponte2103) October 19, 2020
Looking at the video above. You can see how he identifies the run by the Rams and stops the touchdown play. Dre has above average play recognition, and he’s viable in pass coverage as well. He tackles well and can defend the pass when it’s required. Greenlaw can keep up with tight ends and can usually win that battle. Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner give the 49ers a nice young linebacker duo to hold them over for seasons to come. Both of them should be rostered in IDP leagues. They should also be able to give IDP managers plenty to work with when it comes to fantasy points. In my personal opinion, I think Greenlaw will end up being the linebacker to own in San Francisco.
Greenlaw did suffer a calf injury in week 16 against Arizona. So, he missed the last game of the season. If there’s no setbacks from that injury, Greenlaw should be the starting WILL linebacker for them once again in 2021. The 49ers did agree to a deal with former Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam. Though I do not foresee him taking Greenlaw’s job. He’s likely going to take over the SAM linebacker position. Greenlaw should be considered earlier in drafts than past seasons. He holds more value now, and can be a week to week contributor for family managers. I believe he has LB2 value with LB1 upside. I know that may be a bit of a reach, but I highly believe his fully capable of winning weeks for IDP managers.