The San Francisco 49ers confirmed that defensive linebacker Dre Greenlaw suffered a torn Achilles in Super Bowl LVIII.

The injury didn’t occur on a play, but rather as Greenlaw was preparing to run back onto the field with 9:26 remaining in the second quarter. He was seen leaving Allegiant Stadium with a boot and crutches and will most likely miss the start of the 2024 season.

Other 49ers players were in shock after the non-contact injury, leaving them without a key piece in their defense. In the 2023 season, Greenlaw had 120 sacks and already collected three in the minimal time he played in the Super Bowl. After the game, Niners players reacted to their teammate’s injury.

“Sometimes when things like that happen, it could sway the momentum just because it’s such an emotional feeling,” San Fransisco defensive lineman Nick Bosa said. “Dre is a one-of-one human being. He was pushing through so much this year, and I think 99% of players wouldn’t have been able to do what he did.”

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The 49ers’ defense was ranked fourth in opponents’ points per game (18.8) and eighth in opponents’ yards per play (5.1) throughout the regular season and held the Chiefs to only three points in the first half of the Super Bowl. Though they had looked so strong, the loss of Greenlaw proved to be fatal as they allowed 23 points in the second half and overtime, resulting in the team’s third championship game loss since 2012.

“That’s depressing,” Niners tight end George Kittle said after the game. “To get injured in the Super Bowl? Hopefully he hits up Aaron Rodgers and figures out how to heal up quickly. Besides that, Dre’s the heartbeat of our defense, Fred [Warner] and him. They feed off each other.”

Rodgers tore his Achilles on September 11 in Week 1 against the Bills in his first game with the New York Jets. He was able to return to practice in 77 days, but never suited up for another game in the 2023 season. Similar to Greenlaw, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins suffered a non-contact Achilles injury in Week 8 against the Packers. Cousins had surgery to repair the injury, but reportedly still has four months to go on his recovery process.

It was not Greenlaw’s first Achilles injury of the season, as he sat out Week 18 against the Rams with Achilles tendonitis. Though it’s impossible to know the return time for any specific player, the hope for San Fransisco is that Greenlaw will have surgery soon and can heal up fast, in hopes of being ready for the start of the 2024 season.


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