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Why ‘Big Play Dre’ Greenlaw should be a Pro Bowler this season

Dre Greenlaw’s rightfully earned his nickname, Big Play Dre, but is also deserving of a Pro Bowl nod.

Miami Dolphins v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

It’s hard to stand out on a defense that features Pro-Bowl level talent at all three levels, between Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Fred Warner, and Charvarius Ward, but Dre Greenlaw pops when you turn on the 49ers’ defensive tape.

Greenlaw went viral this weekend for getting an autograph from Tom Brady after intercepting him during the game, but it shouldn’t overshadow how well the newly-extended 49ers’ linebacker is playing.

On Sunday, after the 49ers demolished the Buccaneers, Fred Warner came up to the post-game podium and added, “The way people talk about me, that’s how they need to talk about him [Greenlaw].”

First, that is such a great display of humility from Warner, who’s arguably the best linebacker in the sport. Second, it shows how dominant Greenlaw has been this season, who had a career-high 15 tackles on Sunday while tacking on an interception.

The former Arkansas linebacker is seventh among all linebackers with 88 solo tackles on the season. He’s third among linebackers with 48 run stops this season. He leads the 49ers' defensive players in both of those categories.

He’s been playing sideline-to-sideline with his hair on fire and inflicting all sorts of pain on opponents, whether that’s a running back, wide receiver, or tight end.

Greenlaw is second in PFF’s overall grade for linebackers, right behind Rams’ Bobby Wagner — which is fantastic company to be a part of.

Sports Info Solutions has a “Total Points Saved” statistic for defenders. It takes a look at how much value a defender adds and how many points they’re responsible for “saving” on a per-play basis. Dre Greenlaw is currently second in Total Points Saved for the season among all linebackers in the NFL.

The 49ers’ decision to extend Greenlaw before the season ends looks wiser and wiser by the minute, as they’re getting one of the best linebackers in the NFL on a discounted deal.