Greenlaw admits he must learn ‘situational football' after mental mistakes

Greenlaw admits he must learn ‘situational football' after mental mistakes originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SANTA CLARA — Dre Greenlaw came up with three of the biggest plays Saturday night to enable the 49ers to advance in the NFC playoffs.

But two mental mistakes once the linebacker had the ball in his hands caused a lot of anxiety for his teammates, coaches and 49ers fans in the team's 24-21 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Levi's Stadium.

“I got to learn situational football, man,” Greenlaw admitted after the game in an interview on the 49ers’ radio postgame show. “So that’s the next step.”

The Packers committed the only two giveaways of the game and had another turnover on downs.

Greenlaw was the key man on the 49ers’ defense with two interceptions of Packers quarterback Jordan Love. He also stopped Love on a fourth-and-1 sneak early in the second quarter.

Greenlaw was the best player on the field for a game in which he was listed as questionable entering the game with Achilles tendinitis.

“He's been battling here for these two weeks trying to get back and get healthy for the game,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “He inspires the heck out of all of us. The way he runs, the way he hits."

Greenlaw made his first interception late in the third quarter around midfield. Once in possession of the ball, he zigged and zagged while recklessly holding the ball loosely away from his body before he was tackled after a 7-yard return.

That takeaway set up Jake Moody’s 52-yard field goal that pulled the 49ers to within 21-17 after the first play of the fourth quarter.

After the 49ers took the lead with a minute remaining in regulation, Greenlaw made Love pay for throwing late, across his body to the middle of the field, intercepting the pass at the 49ers’ 42-yard line.

Game over, right?

Not quite.

Again, Greenlaw held the ball away from his body as he frantically tried to pile up return yards, rather than going to the ground and securing the victory. He finally went down after an 18-yard return.

“We'll put him on offense if he really wants to run with the ball that bad,” Shanahan said jokingly afterward. “He could definitely get down a lot sooner.”

Greenlaw said all he was thinking about in the moment was returning the interception for a touchdown. The idea that he could have been stripped of the ball to give the Packers another chance was not something he considered until later.

“I try to get one (a touchdown) every time I get the ball,’ Greenlaw said. “But yeah, I know I need to go down.”

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