The San Francisco 49ers spent a third round pick on BYU linebacker Fred Warner, and found themselves a versatile presence. Scouting reports see him as a weakside linebacker, but he could bring athleticism of a safety to the position. Given the NFL’s offensive evolution, having a big guy who can do strong work in coverage is huge.
One of the perks to operating on a network like SB Nation is easy access to fans of draft picks. We took a few minutes to chat with Vanquish The Foe site manager Robert McCombs about Warner.
What can you tell us about the role(s) he filled at BYU?
Warner was an outside linebacker in both a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme. His first 2 year’s, he was largely used a pass rusher in BYU’s 3-4 scheme. His sophomore year, he had a career high 4 sacks and 11.5 TFL.
His junior and senior years, Warner became the focal point of the defense in BYU’s new 4-3 scheme. Warner was asked to rush the passer less, and was often used as a hybrid nickel back. He was excellent in coverage and was solid in rush defense, as he finished both seasons with over 85 tackles.
What does he do particularly well on the football field?
Versatility is Warner’s biggest strength. Warner did so much for BYU in both the run and pass game. He often covered the opposing team’s best TE or slot receiver, and would come up with big tackles in the run game.
He also a knack for coming up with game-changing plays, as he finished his BYU career with 7 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries and 2 pick sixes. You’ll want to check out the amazing pick 6 he had at Boise State in 2016.
What does he need to do to improve his game at the NFL level?
Fred can do better at taking better angles to the ball. He would sometimes over pursue on a play, forcing him to miss some tackles or try to make an arm tackle. He’ll be facing bigger backs at the NFL level, so he won’t be able to get away with making out-of-position tackles as often.
What can you tell us about his personality and how he is off the field?
Man, Fred is awesome. BYU had arguably its worst season ever in 2017 (4-9), but Fred was a leader and role model for the team. Fred showed up EVERY game and gave 100% effort, even when it was apparent some players had given up.
Off the field, Fred always had a smile on his face and represented BYU extremely well. He had zero off-field issues during his four-year career, and was seen being involved with and giving back to the community.
49er fans don’t need to have any concerns about Fred’s off-field behavior. He has a great family, and he will give back to the community and be a role model for younger athletes.
Anything else of note worth knowing about Warner?
Fred is very durable. Once he became a starter his sophomore year, he didn’t miss a single game.
Many BYU fans are already 49er fans dating back to the Steve Young days, and the 49ers will be getting some more fans with Fred now on the team.
Great pick by the 49ers.