Sure, we were making all sorts of fun of Robert Saleh and his defense for the speed in which the Green Bay Packers were able to score a touchdown on their first drive Monday Night. It only took four or so plays, but it may have been progress from the week before. Last week the Cardinals scored in one play.
So what was going on with the San Francisco 49ers and their defense? Two weeks in a row it’s busted coverage.
Well, look no further than Fred Warner. The Athletic’s David Lombardi reports that a lot of the chaos happening on that first drive was on Warner:
Theme after talking to several 49ers defenders in the locker room: They botched several communications at the start of the game. Fred Warner, who wears the radio, said it was his fault and that he got “caught up in the moment.” ...— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) October 16, 2018
A lot of questions are being placed on Robert Saleh and if his defense is simply too complicated for its own good. The same concerns were raised a few years back on the other side of the ball with Jim Harbaugh’s offense.
On the other hand, it seems like the 49ers are set on making this a learning experience for Warner. They want him to screw up, because that’s the only way he’ll get better. In other words, Fred Warner is going to be the one with the radio and the guy relaying calls to the rest of the defense. That is his role moving forward:
Salvaging a couple miscommunications in 2018 is not the 49ers’ priority or goal. They’re trying to set the table for 2019 so they’re letting Warner take his lumps now with the radio. They have full faith in his ability to master the job. https://t.co/JCKpKO176u— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) October 16, 2018
Sitting and learning is one way, getting fed to the wolves is another. In this case, the 49ers are making Warner man the helmet and relay calls to the defense and when he screws up, well they help him figure out why. While plays like Monday’s opening drive can be maddening, it’s the only way Warner will learn and the 49ers are going to get better.
At this point, it’s to 2019, and it’s dissecting the miscommunications to make them better when the time comes.