MIAMI – None of the 49ers want the "What if?" – Play the game because you don't have to.
After all, what is being done, right?
But what would have happened if the 49er rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw didn't stop Seattle's close end, Jacob Hollister, an inch or two ahead of the goal on the fourth and last month with the purest, most technically sound tackle you will ever have Have seen a win in San Francisco and – most importantly – the number 1 overall NFC seed in the playoffs?
If Greenlaw hadn't followed linebacker coach DeMeco Ryans' instructions a few days before training, San Francisco wouldn't have a home advantage in the NFC playoffs, wouldn't suffocate the Vikings in the division round, and overwhelm the Packers in the NFC title game at Levi & # 39 ; s stage.
If Greenlaw Hollister had hit high instead of high and let him fall over the goal line with the winning touchdown, the 49ers would have entered the playoffs as the fifth starter and would have had to win three street playoff games to get Miami this week.
If Greenlaw Hollister doesn't get stoned on the goal line, there's a good chance the 49ers won't play against the Chiefs at Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
This is of course a hypothesis that the 49ers have little interest in analyzing. They prefer to believe that they are a team of fate, that they were a good street team in 2019 (7-1) and that they would be here anyway.
You can think whatever you want, but Greenlaw, the 148th overall winner last spring, saved her season with this duel, the game of the year in the NFL.
Greenlaw's game may have changed the course of history for the 49ers trying to win their first Super Bowl since the 1994 season.
"It was mentioned a few times this week," Greenlaw said with a smile. "And I feel more than comfortable when I talk about it."
Why shouldn't it be?
"It was one of the best games I've ever seen live," said DeForest Buckner.
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"Probably one of the biggest games of our season," said 49er linebacker Fred Warner.
Should the 49ers beat the chiefs, you can make the argument that was one of the greatest games in 49ers history.
Here's how it went:
On December 29 in Seattle, the Seahawks followed the 49ers 26:21 in the final seconds, and Russell Wilson ended a pass from the 6-yard line from San Francisco to Hollister that was hit Almost instantly by Greenlaw, he ended that Game with a nine-second lead and started the 49ers' drive home through the playoffs to Miami.
"I had my eyes on the quarterback again to find out what could get around me," recalls Greenlaw. "We had practiced a piece that was similar to the one they tried to push me outside and." [Ryans] said, "Look back at the quarterback and read the quarterback's eyes."
"I remember rushing and spinning around when the ball left Russ & # 39; hand and Dre was at the goal line and scored a goal and I saw the guy go down but I didn't see where the ball was stretched and my heart somehow sank. Buckner said.
"I only remember a hard blow … and the noise, a loud noise," said Jimmie Ward.
Two weeks earlier, Ward was at the wrong end of a similar game when he gave up on Falcon receiver Julio Jones, who plunged forward into the end zone and scored the touchdown five seconds ahead of the 29:22 win in Atlanta on December 13
That was the last time the 49ers lost.
"Football is about learning," said Ward. "Dre took over the coaching from the film I made and he was a little bit higher and he did a great piece."
Nobody was more proud than Greenlaw's position coach.
"A perfect duel at the perfect time," said Ryans.
Making the story as perfect as this is the success story of Greenlaw – a 22-year-old who was smuggled through six different accommodations and nursing homes in Arkansas as a teenager before finally being adopted in ninth grade.
"I've been through a lot of things that children growing up in poverty have to go through – but maybe a little bit worse if my mother or father aren't around and go through the foster family and find shelter in different group homes," said Greenlaw.
Football changed his life.
"When I got home to a group and started playing football, I realized that I couldn't have any problems, otherwise there would be no football," said Greenlaw. "Now I'm in the Super Bowl. It gives you a different perspective on life. I don't take it for granted.
"It's a crazy story."
Much like the 49ers in Seattle, a story full of "what if?"
For more information on Super Bowl 2020, see the latest episode of the podcast "Gang’s All Here":