One of the keys to the success of the San Francisco 49ers’ defense last season was the play of middle linebacker Fred Warner.
The 23-year-old racked up 118 tackles, seven for a loss, 3 sacks, and 9 passes defended in 2019. He was named No. 70 on the NFL’s Top 100 Players list going into the 2020 season and has the potential to be even higher going into 2021.
Warner will lineup alongside Kwon Alexander and Dre Greenlaw in the middle of the defense for the second-straight season. Something he appreciates as the 49ers gear up for another run at a Super Bowl title.
“Just having that year under our belt, being together, Dre [Greenlaw] included, things just run so much faster, so much smoother, and we’re able to set the tone right away,” Warner said. “We’re all about bringing the energy not only to the defense but to the whole team, and we haven’t missed a beat with that.”
Having continuity in the group will be a big benefit for the defense, considering how much the pandemic has altered this NFL offseason. The unit ranked second in overall defense in 2019, and Warner believes based on what he has seen so far, there is no reason to believe the defense will play at a high level again in 2020.
“This year, it’s kind of crazy because we get out there in that first day of walk-through, and usually, there’s a little bit of trying to work back into things,” Warner said. “But, we got out there, and we’re just hitting on all cylinders.
Cornerback Richard Sherman said earlier in the week that the Niners are hungry, focused, and ready to adapt to all the challenges the team will face due to the coronavirus. Warner echoed those sentiments. He believes this team is ready to win it all, and are willing to take the necessary measures to do so.
“I think we have one of the best locker rooms, one of the best groups of men in the whole NFL in our building,” Warner said. “I feel like everybody understands the situation and is willing to make the sacrifices needed.”