The San Francisco 49ers shut down the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night football 37-8. The game took a turn on the first possession when linebacker Fred Warner blitzed and forced a fumble on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The defense recovered, which led to a quick score for the Niners. Besides that sack and a forced fumble, Warner racked up 11 tackles. I had seven of those as stops, which is the most any 49er has had this season. Warner was all over the place and deserved the recognition he’s receiving as of late.
This is the third time a member of the 49ers defense has won the award. Nick Bosa has done it twice. Robert Saleh called Warner the quarterback of the defense. On Monday afternoon, Kyle Shanahan was asked about the leap Warner has taken this season. Here’s what he said:
“I think a lot. That’s what you expect out of a guy in his second year, especially with how much he played his first year. But, it doesn’t always go that way. Sometimes, guys have a real good first year and they relax a little bit thinking they figured it out and then you get extremely humbled the second year. Fred got to play a ton and exceeded expectations, I think, with everyone his first year. Then he was just even more hungry, came back like a 10-year vet and came back better mentally, better physically and I think it’s shown to everyone in every game.”
Warner has helped transform this defense into one of the best in the league. His growth is evident, and we see that when he blitzes. I was thinking about this, and making a cross-sport reference, when Warner blitzes, it reminds me of the Warriors “death lineup,” When Golden State, at their peak, went small ball and put four all-stars and Andre Iguodala on the court. No team could stop them. That’s what it’s like for San Francisco. When they bring five, it feels like somebody always gets home and gets a sack.
One thing that’s stood out is when Warner blitzes. Chaos always happens for the offense. Warner blitzed three times vs. GB and the defense had two sacks and broke up another pass.— KP (@KP_Show) November 27, 2019
Teams don’t have an answer. It’s like the peak Warriors “death lineup.” pic.twitter.com/1SMEfEgWCP
Warner leads the team in tackles and stops, but most importantly, he’s grown as a player. I think his physicality is on another level this season, and we’re seeing his confidence on display each time he makes a play. I love seeing Warner flex and get in the face of someone after he or his teammate does something good. It’s been a fun season, and Warner is a big reason why.