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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

“I thought he should have been ejected”: Rapoport discusses 49ers LB Dre Greenlaw’s hit on Chargers QB Justin Herbert

Nov 14, 2022 at 11:58 AM--

There has been much discussion surrounding San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw's election on Sunday night against the Los Angeles Chargers after a helmet-to-helmet impact with quarterback Justin Herbert. No one disputed that the play shouldn't have resulted in a penalty. However, many questioned the decision to throw Greenlaw out of the game when the linebacker didn't appear to be intentionally targeting Herbert with his helmet.

The helmet-to-helmet impact appeared to result from defensive back Jimmie Ward hitting Herbert first, shifting the quarterback's trajectory. After the game, a reporter asked head coach Kyle Shanahan if he believed his linebacker deserved to be ejected after the penalty.

"No, I didn't think so at all," Shanahan responded. "It kind of actually blew my mind. I understand the penalty. I totally get that, right at the third-down marker. He was throwing his shoulder, but I've got to learn what that is. I get how it is with the penalties and stuff because I think he did hit his helmet.

"I haven't seen a replay. We'll see when I get home tonight and watch it again, but I thought there had to be intent in something unnecessary, and that was a big play right there. For us to lose Greenlaw for the whole game off that, that really shocked me. Hopefully, they can teach us that so we can understand why we lost one of our players."

NFL insider Ian Rapoport disagrees with Shanahan, and many who saw the hit replayed repeatedly.

"I will say this, just personally, not that my opinion matters at all, I thought he should have been ejected," Rapoport said Monday morning on KNBR's Murph & Mac show, much to the surprise of the hosts. "It was a very clear helmet-to-helmet, head down ... like, he hit him helmet-to-helmet. It's literally what the rule was created for. And I don't know that you can officiate intent. He literally hit him with the crown of his helmet.

"He hit him in the head. That's bad. But if he was being pulled down a little, then he would have speared him in the chest, which is also bad. It's all bad. I'm watching, and I'm seeing all the comments, and people like, 'He shouldn't have been ejected.' I'm like, 'This is what the rule was created for.'

"Dre Greenlaw is an awesome player. Awesome player. And also very rich and does a lot of really good things. This was a really bad thing, and I think he deserved the ejection because you're not supposed to take guys' own health in your hands like that by hitting him helmet-to-helmet.

"I don't know if he's going to be suspended further. My guess is not, but we'll probably find out more on that today."

The NFL defended the decision. Walt Anderson, the league's senior vice president of officiating, called Greenlaw's hit a "flagrant act."

"The timing, the manner in which the player had an opportunity to make other choices and to make a different decision," Anderson shared with Matt Barrows of the Athletic. "Those all go into factoring whether something is flagrant. Those are just some of the factors that are considered."

He added, "Whenever the player lowered his head and made forcible contact, the runner was already down on the ground. His knee was already down, and he was tackled."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Rapoport below.


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