Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

NFL fines 49ers’ Dre Greenlaw $10,609 for ‘bang-bang play’ on Chargers’ Justin Herbert

Nov 19, 2022 at 3:21 PM--

Dre Greenlaw posted "Free me" to social media shortly after being ejected from Sunday night's game between the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers. Officials from New York ruled the linebacker's helmet-to-helmet hit on quarterback Justin Herbert warranted him exiting the game.

"It was just like a bang-bang play," Greenlaw told reporters on Friday. "I definitely did not mean to get ejected or hurt anybody, but that's part of football."

Today, the NFL has fined Greenlaw $10,609 for the hit on Herbert, per NFL insider Ian Rapoport.

"Yeah, he got pushed forward, so it just sucks that it happened, but it's just football," Greenlaw continued. "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, and it just kind of made it even worse."

The impact probably would have been less severe had Herbert's trajectory not been altered by defensive back Jimmie Ward's initial hit. At that point, there wasn't much Greenlaw could do to avoid the collision as he had already committed to the tackle.

"It kind of actually blew my mind," head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game. "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 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."

Shanahan wasn't alone. No one believed Greenlaw didn't deserve to be penalized, but many were shocked that it resulted in an ejection. Although, Walt Anderson, the league's senior vice president of officiating, defended the decision and called Greenlaw's hit a "flagrant act," claiming that Herbert was already down by contact.

"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."

Rapoport also agreed with the decision.

"I will say this, just personally, not that my opinion matters at all, I thought he should have been ejected," Rapoport said this past week on KNBR. "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."

In addition to the 49ers coach, several of Greenlaw's teammates came to the linebacker's defense, noting that Greenlaw isn't a dirty player and defending his character. Those words meant a lot to Greenlaw.

"It's big time," Greenlaw said. "They know how I play, 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 put my team in the best position possible, so they know that. 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."

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