Prior to the 2019-20 NFL season, the 49ers signed Alexander to a four-year 54 million dollar deal, with 27 million in guarantees. Many fans were scratching their heads as to why the 49ers would pay Alexander so much money, but it was clear why, after a stellar performance against the Bengals early on. Alexander was bringing his strong IQ and skillset to help boost the 49ers defense.
After Alexander was ruled out for the season following a win against the Cardinals, backup linebacker and fifth-round pick, Dre Greenlaw took over for Alexander. Undoubtedly Greenlaw was clutch for the 49ers, especially in the games against the Seahawks. In week 9 at home, the 49ers were tied in an overtime game vs the Seahawks. Russell Wilson and the offense were lined up inside the 15 attempting to score a touchdown to win the game, before Greenlaw intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass down the sideline to set up an opportunity for the 49ers offense. Again, in week 17, the 49ers and Seahawks were facing off to win the division. The Seahawks lineup up for a 4th and 15, down 5, with 12 seconds left. Russell Wilson takes the snap, drops back, sets, fires down the middle to Jacob Hollister, then boom Dre Greenlaw lays out a big hit to stop Hollister at the 1 and win the game for the 49ers.
Although Greenlaw was fantastic during Alexander’s time off, Alexander brings more to the table than just good play.
Kwon Alexander is a leader. Alexander has the ability to bring out the best of players around him. One team source described him as the “heart and soul of the defense”. Alexander fires up the team after big plays and alongside 49ers defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh, Alexander used the phrase “all gas, no brakes” to help fire up the team. Alexander created the upcoming year’s “revenge tour” mentality along with the “Hot Boyzz” nickname for the linebacker group to help add fire to the team this past season. Alexander sets expectations for himself and others. He wants everyone work hard and be “legendary”.
Kwon Alexander plays football with passion. Alexander is not a lazy player. Alexander does not take plays off. When a play is to be made on the other side of the field, Alexander will do everything he can do to attack the ball or help out on the play. Even off the field, Alexander is passionate about the game. When Alexander was ruled out for the season with a pectoral injury, he was not quick to give up as many players would. Alexander found out that there was a slim chance he could return during the playoffs and that’s exactly what he did. He was willing to play through the pain in order to help the team win during the playoffs.
Prior to the snap, Alexander is always communicating with his teammates. Whether it is making a call out or just firing up the team and crowd, Alexander is talking. Alexander is a very vocal leader, which is why he is often seen leading pregame huddles or just having a good time with teammates to keep the team’s morale up.
Aside from his intangibles, Alexander is a phenomenal player. Alexander’s IQ against the run is great. Alexander is very good attacking gaps and often gets good releases from the snap. His IQ and speed allow for most of this Alexander ran a 4.55 40 time at the combine back in 2015. Alexander is fast so it allows him to make cross-field plays. More than speed, he is great at recognizing the play and using his skill set to take advantage.
Many fans believe that Kwon should be moved to a lesser role for Dre Greenlaw and that should not be the case. Alexander is more important for the mentality and fire of the team than anyone else on the roster. Without Alexander off the field more, it is unlikely that the 49ers will have as much passion on the field. The 49ers have incredible depth at the linebacker position which is why the 49ers should split the snaps among all of their linebackers in order to keep the team healthy this season and keep Alexander as that #2 LB with Greenlaw as the #3.