49ers brainstorming of Trey Greenlaw leaves Kyle Shanahan with 'mixed emotions'

NFL

The decisive play, the key play, the game-sealing play was also a play that caused anxiety and concern and prompted the head coach to reprimand him in a manner that was at once playful and almost fair.

As linebacker Trey Greenlaw made a diving interception and preserved a soggy football on a rainy evening in Saturday night's tense 24-21 NFC divisional playoff win, the horror that could actually be parted from Greenlaw was immediate and frightening. Ball – the only way to ensure victory.

And so, as there were gasps of joy and relief in Levis Stadium, there were gasps and pleas to “Get down!” from 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.

With 1:07 remaining, Christian McCaffrey scored on a 6-yard touchdown run to put the 49ers ahead by three points.

Trey Greenlaw intercepted Jordan Love with 46 seconds left Saturday. AP
Running back Trey Greenlaw intercepts Jordan Love in Saturday's 49ers win. Good pictures

The Packers had enough time to get to the point to send the game into overtime.

But Jordan Love committed a late quarterback throw across his body, and his wobbly pass to Christian Watson was picked off by Greenlaw with 46 seconds left.

Game over – unless Greenlaw does something crazy.

He almost did.

“I can't believe he didn't go down right away,” Shanahan said.

The bad angel on one of Greenlaw's shoulders grabbed the good angel on the other.

Greenlaw jumped to his feet and started running.

There was a shout from the sidelines to get down and protect the ball.

But he listened to teammate and fellow linebacker Fred Warner's words to him leading up to the game — that he should get a pick-six for the Niners.

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“So it's his fault,” Greenlaw said. “He was like, 'Man, you're getting a pick-six.' So every time I tried to get the ball. But yeah, I knew I had to go down.

Kyle Shanahan said Trey Greenlaw's decision after an interception left him with “mixed emotions.”
Trey Greenlaw didn't go down after a late interception Saturday. AP

For 12 agonizing seconds, Greenlaw was on his feet and incited fate.

Around the Green Bay 40-yard line, Packers wide receiver Jayden Reed nearly stripped Greenlaw of the ball.

In the end, he went down and that was that.

Shanahan admitted he had “mixed emotions” about what should be a play that evokes nothing but celebratory emotions.

“If he really wants to run with the foul ball we'll put him on offense,” Shanahan deadpanned. “He can certainly get off very soon.”

Good teams can occasionally overcome lapses in judgment and performance, and the 49ers were able to rise above their own setbacks to avoid an upset and elimination at the hands of a clearly inspired and underdog Packers.

Shanahan was philosophical about Greenlaw's temporary brain spasm, which he compared to a good three hours.

“It was like the whole day,” he said. “All the guys I'm really upset with are the guys I love the most in the end, because they're the ones who gave us the 'W.' ''

Dre Greenlaw sealed the 49ers' fourth NFC Championship appearance in the past five years. Good pictures

Ultimately, the 'W' is all that matters to a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.

Next Sunday, the 49ers will play the Lions, who beat the Buccaneers 31-23 on Sunday, in the NFC Championship Game.

It will be the fourth time the 49ers have been in the NFC title game in the past five years and third straight.

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They followed the 2021 season with a 20-17 loss to the Rams and a 31-7 loss to the Eagles after last season, in which Brock Purdy injured his right elbow, replaced Josh Johnson with a concussion, and Purdy had to return. – Enter the game even if unable to bowl.

Both of those NFC title game losses were on the road.

Trey Greenlaw celebrates after making an interception in the fourth quarter. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The next one is at home.

“We're thinking about it,” Purdy said. “It's in the back of our minds, we had a team to do it last year and we felt like we didn't have a real chance at it after the quarterbacks got hurt in that game. So, I think we're really excited for that,” he said.




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