Happy Summer Faithful! Today, we continue our coverage of the San Francisco 49ers 2018 NFL Draft class. Our focus will turn to linebacker Fred Warner. The BYU product has become a popular selection amongst fans and evaluators. I for one think the 49ers are getting great value with Warner. While nothing has been ruled yet on Reuben Foster, a suspension could be likely, and perhaps that will open the door for Warner to see significant and meaningful playing time often and early to start the season.
Linebacker quickly became a bigger need at around the time of the draft when Reuben Foster was facing some serious charges against him. Even with those charges dropped, he could still be looking at a suspension handed down by the NFL. Today, we are going to take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of the 49ers third round selection, and why he could have a positive impact this upcoming season.
Name: Fred Warner
Weight: 236 lbs.
Hands: 9 3/4”
40 Yard Dash: 4.64
Bench Press: 21 reps
Vertical Jump: 38.5”
Broad Jump: 119.0”
3 Cone Drill: 6.9
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.28
60 Yard Shuttle: 11.77
2017 Season: Started 13 games for BYU with 87 tackles, 9 for a loss, 1 interception, and 5 pass breakups.
- Has great length and physical traits for the position. Smooth runner with good speed for the position.
- Moves fluidity through his hips, which allows him to cover field vertically and horizontally.
- Plays on instincts and senses where the play is going to occur. Finds a way to get involved early and often.
- On tape, Warner is often seen following the quarterback’s eyes. Anticipating where the pass is going in pass protection.
- Strong lower-body movement which allows hime to change directions on a dime.
- Strong leadership skills and experience. Leads by example, and served as team captain.
- Has the speed and coverage abilities to defend against receivers as well as chasing down a runner off the edge.
- Will hit with authority, and has a strong presence on the field.
- As a hybrid linebacker, Warner can be lined up and utilized in multiple ways in the scheme.
- Will need to be a more consistent tackler, and at times gets pushed off the ball by the opponent.
- Would be ideal for Warner to add weight and strength to play the position at the next level.
- At times he will find himself on the back end of a play and out of position.
- *This one is more of a question...Was a hybrid linebacker at school, and it is yet to be determined if there is a clear, consistent position for Warner at the next level.
As I mentioned early in the article, Warner was a popular pick when the 49ers selected him early in the third round (3rd Round - 6th Pick). The biggest question mark many seem to have about Warner is how the 49ers plan to use him in their scheme. At times he has the looks of a strong safety, and at other times as a traditional middle linebacker. On tape, he is utilized all over the field. The positives from all of this is that Warner has demonstrated his ability to be effective against the run and the pass. He has the strength to defend against running backs going up the middle, and the speed and range to track down receivers, tight ends, and runners along the edge.
At the moment my gut is telling me that Reuben Foster is going to be facing some sort of suspension. With a strong training camp and preseason I believe we will see Warner in meaningful, regular season game action. There will be growing pains and learning curves. However, I believe the 49ers got themselves a talented young linebacker with a high ceiling and the arrow pointing up. Bottom line is that Warner is the do-it-all, jack-of-all trades hybrid linebacker. I am excited about Warner and what he can bring to the table. Expect some contributions from Warner this season, with hints of promise and excitement for whats to come as he grows and gains experience at the pro level.
What are YOUR thoughts on Fred Warner? Does he make a positive impact on defense this season? How will the 49ers utilize him in their defensive scheme? Please share in the comments below!