49ers' Dre Greenlaw, Eagles security head exchange apologies

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Three days after the sideline dustup that resulted in the ejection of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw and the Philadelphia Eagles' head of security, Dom DiSandro, both sides appear ready to move on.

Speaking to media for the first time since he was ejected for his hand contacting DiSandro's face during Sunday's 43-19 win, Greenlaw said he and DiSandro had exchanged apologies via intermediaries.

"We just exchanged a formal apology just between me and [Niners general manager John Lynch] and some of the same people that we do know that in the building and stuff like that," Greenlaw said. "He seemed like a genuine guy. Seemed like a guy that everybody loved in the building. So, I hate that, honestly. I really hate that it even escalated and went to that."

On Monday, the league office told ESPN that it would review the sideline incident between Greenlaw and DiSandro. Greenlaw and Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday they had not heard from the NFL and were expecting no further discipline for Greenlaw beyond the 15-yard penalty and ejection he received Sunday. The matter remains under review by the league office, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Wednesday, and there is expected to be a follow-up with the Eagles this week.

The NFL sent a memo to all teams Wednesday afternoon reminding them to "please ensure that all members of your game-day staff understand that their role does not extend to being involved with game day altercations and that they must refrain from such involvement."

The incident in question took place about 5½ minutes into the third quarter, when Greenlaw tackled Eagles receiver DeVonta Smith near the Philadelphia sideline after a 13-yard completion. Greenlaw lifted Smith off his feet and slammed him to the ground, which drew a flag for unnecessary roughness.

As Greenlaw and Smith stood up, Eagles staff and players rushed over and began yelling back and forth with Greenlaw and some of his teammates. Replays showed that DiSandro put his hands on Greenlaw and nudged him away from the Eagles sideline. Greenlaw was yelling and pointing while DiSandro stepped in the middle and Greenlaw's hand appeared to come into contact with DiSandro's face.

That drew an automatic disqualification upon review of the play in New York, according to a pool report with Walt Anderson, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating. Greenlaw acknowledged Wednesday he wasn't surprised by the flag but disagreed with the decision to eject him.

"I felt like I shouldn't have been ejected, but I can't go back and say anything about it now," Greenlaw said. "They did their job."

As Greenlaw returned to the Niners sideline pleading his case to teammates and coaches, officials also ejected DiSandro for what Anderson described as "contributing to the escalation" of an argument.

Niners coach Kyle Shanahan, who vehemently expressed his displeasure with Greenlaw's ejection, was particularly bothered by the fact that one of his players got thrown out for a confrontation with someone who isn't a player or coach.

Shanahan said Wednesday that he understood the penalty flag on Greenlaw but he would have preferred if nobody had been ejected.

"I also don't think [DiSandro] pushed [Greenlaw] that bad, so I'm not trying to build that up either," Shanahan said. "That stuff happens all the time and people break it up. There's no penalties and you can go back and you move on with your life and you get it going. Dre just got ejected, and when they look at why and then I guess then that guy should have too. But that's why I don't want that guy made an example out of. I just think we should have kept it moving."

Shanahan also expressed confidence that after what happened Sunday, the league will work to ensure that incidents like the one that took place in Philadelphia doesn't become common practice around the league where teams happily trade a staff member for a key player from the other side.

"It won't be, it can't be and that's why they probably did make a big deal out of [it]," Shanahan said. "It can't be a strategy. They'll put an end to that, which I think they already have."

"We just exchanged a formal apology just between me and (Niners general manager) John (Lynch) and some of the same people that we do know that in the building and stuff like that. He seemed like a genuine guy. Seemed like a guy that everybody loved in the building. So, I hate that, honestly. I really hate that it even escalated and went to that."
49ers LB Dre Greenlaw

The 49ers view Greenlaw as a tone setter, a player whose physical approach is something that generates energy for the rest of the team. Shanahan said Greenlaw is "as good as anyone I've been around" when it comes to playing the enforcer role and is San Francisco's "most physical hitter."

That style has also yielded its share of costly penalties, however. Since Greenlaw entered the league in 2019, he has been flagged for seven unnecessary roughness penalties and four 15-yard face mask infractions, both of which are tied for the most in the NFL (including the playoffs).

For his part, Greenlaw says he is constantly trying to walk a "fine line" between being aggressive and not getting costly penalties but he isn't trying to intentionally hurt anyone.

"I'm not a dirty player," Greenlaw said. "I play by the rules. I mean just because you tackle a little physical doesn't make you a dirty player."

In January's NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia, Greenlaw drew an unnecessary roughness penalty for a hit on running back Kenneth Gainwell and an infraction for grabbing running back Boston Scott's face mask. Greenlaw was also ejected from a game last year for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.

But Greenlaw's fast, physical approach also resonates with his teammates, who point out that many of the penalties that go against him are often happening so quickly that they can be tough to avoid.

And despite what happened Sunday, nobody in San Francisco is asking Greenlaw to change how he plays.

"I know exactly what he's going to bring every time he's out there," linebacker Fred Warner said. "An enforcer, a tone setter out there delivering those hits and flying to the football every single play, and you need that."