It’s pretty rare in the NFL for a player to get thrown out for an illegal hit.
Yet that’s what happened to 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw on Sunday vs. the Chargers, when he temporarily knocked quarterback Justin Herbert out of the game on a helmet-to-helmet hit at the end of the first half.
Kyle Shanahan expressed shock that Greenlaw was thrown out in addition to being given the 15-yard penalty. 49ers color commentator Tim Ryan went a step further on KNBR Monday, saying that Greenlaw didn’t even deserve to be penalized.
“How about that garbage call?” Ryan said when Murph and Mac brought up the play.
“Here’s how I look at it; (a) he’s not defenseless, he’s a runner. He had passed the line of scrimmage as a runner. I don’t care if he’s a quarterback, a running back, a tight end, a wide out, an offensive guard who picks up a fumble and runs beyond the line of scrimmage. He is a runner beyond the line of scrimmage.
“Quarterbacks get all the protection when they give themselves up. Herbert did not give himself up. Clearly he was a runner, clearly he was not defenseless as a runner. He was in a predicament and then a vulnerability to get smacked, which he did.
“Dre Greenlaw is not leading with the crown of his helmet, he’s not dipping down to hit him helmet-to-helmet, he’s coming in, same leg, same shoulder, how they are taught. Looked to me like he was leading with his shoulder. Herbert being tackled falls into Dre Greenlaw. Those contacts are going to happen. There is absolutely nothing Dre Greenlaw can do there. Again, he was not a defenseless player, he did not give himself up. It wasn’t even a freaking penalty in my eyes.”
The officials did indeed provide an explanation for the ejection after the game. The decision to disqualify Greenlaw came from the league office in New York. NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Walt Anderson explained why Greenlaw’s act was “flagrant” to pool reporter Matt Barrows.
“The timing, the manner in which the player had an opportunity to make other choices and to make a different decision,” Coleman said “Those all go into factoring whether something is flagrant. Those are just some of the factors that are considered.”
“The runner was a downed runner. He was already down by contact. That certainly plays into taking a look at the actions taken by the defender. If he had other choices in terms of his actions, we felt like the actions he took were flagrant in nature and that was the reason for disqualification.”
Coleman also said that had Herbert been a non-quarterback, the same action would have been taken.
Ryan called BS on that.
“It’s because he’s a quarterback,” Ryan concluded, “because he’s Justin Herbert, and because of the effect.”
Listen to the full interview below. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Catch Murph & Mac weekdays from 6 – 10 a.m. on KNBR 104.5 / 680 and streaming live on KNBR.com.