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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

49ers rookie Dee Winters understands Dre Greenlaw comparison

May 12, 2023 at 9:53 AM--

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Dee Winters has been watching San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner for years, since the former TCU defender transitioned from safety to linebacker. He was so impressed by the 49ers star that he modeled his game after the All-Pro linebacker.

"I think Fred Warner is probably one of the top linebackers in the league, and that's definitely somebody I look up to," Winters told reporters via Zoom, just minutes after the 49ers drafted him in the sixth round. "I'm definitely excited to get to work with him and kind of follow in his footsteps."

While Winters has been trying to model his play after Warner's, the 49ers' general manager named another player that might be a better comparison.

"Comparisons are dangerous because you have to go do it, but he has similar traits to Dre Greenlaw," John Lynch said following the draft. "A similar suddenness to his game."

Being one of the more underrated players on the team, Winters admits he wasn't as familiar with Greenlaw until recently.

"So I actually learned about Dre during this draft process, and I did see some similarities in there," Winters told reporters on Thursday, the day before the 49ers kick off their two-day rookie minicamp. "You know, height, size, speed, and I think that's something I do for sure want to model my game after, and I'm excited to get to work with him."

Entering his senior year, Winters had accumulated only five total sacks in three seasons. He racked up 7.5 in 2022 to go along with his career-high 79 tackles and 14.5 tackles for a loss. Per Pro Football Focus, his career-high 30 pressures ranked second on the team (Dylan Horton, 48).

What's interesting is how Winters racked up all those sacks and pressures. It turns out he was not asked to blitz all that often.

"What's crazy is I didn't actually blitz a lot, and I think it was just the way the scheme was for our defense," Winters explained. "It was simple reads, allowed me to react fast, and I think that's why I was able to make a lot of plays in the backfield, and it kind of looked like blitzes."

Winters confirmed that the highlights from last season where you see him bringing down quarterbacks primarily resulted from his instincts. The rookie linebacker is another intriguing piece added to an already talent-rich 49ers defense.


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