While BYU linebacker Fred Warner didn’t know where he would go in the draft he did report that the 49ers showed him a lot of love on his visit to the facility. He spoke to the coaching staff about playing the MIKE role on defense but says wherever the put him he will “work his ass off.”
Here’s the full transcript of his conference call:
What kind of vibe did you get from the 49ers when you came out here?
“Man, I mean, they showed me so much love when I was out there. You know, just with how the coaches were talking and what they were talking to me about and going around and seeing the facilities, everything. It felt right. You know, obviously I didn’t know who was going to be giving me the call but I’m so excited, so happy it was the 49ers. Man, I’m so excited. I fit their defense so well. Yeah, I’m just so excited, I can’t believe it.”
Well, tell us about that. Why do you fit their defense so well?
“Yeah, so when I was meeting with the linebacker coach, DC, they went over film about how their linebackers play and they really like my ability to be able to break on balls, you know, use my hands to strike defenders and tackle, of course. So they run the, where they have the LEO position, and then the three stand up linebackers, but yeah, I feel like I can fit in right away and do some damage.”
Any one of those two inside linebacker spots that you feel like you’re a better fit at, the WILL spot or the MIKE spot?
“I mean, when they were talking about those positions, they said they are basically interchangeable but the MIKE is the one that’s giving the calls. So I mean, I could play both for sure. I think they talked about me playing MIKE a little more. So wherever they put me, I’m going to go there and I’m going to work and I’m going to work my ass off. That’s it.”
What other teams did you visit?
“I visited with Denver, Buffalo, the Jets, Miami and the 49ers.”
Covering tight ends and running backs, even receivers, is becoming much more of a job description for linebackers.
Is that something that you feel like you excelled at at BYU?
“Absolutely. I think that’s kind of why they like me so much is my ability to play out in space and cover at a high level. I’m more than willing and I feel like I’m very capable of being able to cover the tight ends and any slot receivers, because that’s what I was asked to do in college football.”
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is a linebackers coach, or former linebackers coach. I assume you talked with him extensively and what were your impressions of him?
“Say that one more time?”
What were your impressions of Robert Saleh?
“Oh, man, I loved him. I loved him. Man, I feel like they had a lot of interest in my play, and I could tell they love the game just as much as I do. I just wanted to put my best foot forward so they knew I was serious about it all, and yeah, I can’t wait to be coached up by all those guys and just get to work.”
Did you happen to come across any linebackers while you were here?
“No, actually they were all doing their workouts, so I didn’t get to meet any of the guys. But you know, I’m familiar with the group right now, and I feel like I’ll fit right in.”
Did you exclusively play outside linebacker in college?
“Yes, most of the time I was an outside linebacker. We had a nickel package where they would move me to the MIKE position, so I did play inside backer, more so in the second half of this past season. So, I have played stack before a little bit, and in Senior Bowl I played stack.”
Did most NFL teams you spoke with view you as an inside linebacker in the NFL?
“Yes, yes, absolutely. I mean, every team I spoke with, they saw me as an inside linebacker just because of my skillset, and they needed a guy who can cover, so that was me.”
How often were you asked to cover the slot receiver in college?
“Yeah, in college, that’s where I was lined up at almost every snap, 90-percent of the game I’m out there lined up, 80, 90-percent of the game, I’m out there lined up in apex position on number two. You know, I wasn’t asked to play man-to-man on slot receivers too much, but I mean, I’m very comfortable in space and my coaches knew that, so that’s why they put me out there.”