Fred Warner had no idea what the 49ers were up to as free agency approached. But he was thrilled once he found out the Niners added a talent the caliber of Javon Hargrave.
The 49ers All-Pro linebacker said during his Monday press conference, “I had no idea. They kind of kept that one pretty under wraps and when it came out, I mean, that’s as huge as it gets.”
Warner explained how he and the 49ers had been keeping track of the Eagles defense all year, before stating, “I think he was probably the top free agent on the market, regardless of position. So, he’s going to make a huge impact for our defense.”
One area where Hargrave’s presence will be felt immediately is his availability. He is consistently on the field, as evidenced by playing 64 percent of the snaps last season in Philadelphia. So while it’s fair to question whether Hargrave will have another double-digit sack season, he’ll have a chance as long as he’s on the field.
Here’s Warner on following Philly’s defense throughout the season:
“All year long, you’re keeping up with the top defenses in the league, right? You want to know how your defense stacks up against the best. That was something that we looked at all year and the Eagles were up there every week, and it was because of that front four, front five, guys rotating in and out.
And Javon was right there in the middle, causing havoc the whole way through. I’ve seen stats of how many QB pressures he had by himself, and it’s mind-boggling to add that to a position of need for us. I know he’s going to make a big impact.”
Adding another interior presence should make the 49ers lethal upfront. We know Nick Bosa is unstoppable. Here’s a mind-blowing Bosa stat to prove it: Bosa led all defensive lineman in quarterback knockdown percentage at 6.7 percent, per Sports Info Solutions. The next closest pass rusher was Montez Sweat, at 4.9 percent.
Hargrave doesn’t have to do anything differently than last season. He’ll have every 1-on-1 opportunity playing next to Bosa, which’ll lead to instant production. So, it’s easy to see why players like Warner are excited.
According to Warner, the excitement is mutual with Hargrave: “He’s just excited to be a part of the team. He knew he wanted to go somewhere where he was going to win right away. That was important to him, and that just shows you the type of guy he is.”
With the NFL Draft just a couple of days away, we’ll see how heavily the 49ers continue to invest in defensive lineman. General manager John Lynch said the Niners are looking for players who can contribute right away during his press conference on Monday:
“We like drafting players we believe can go play right now. And is that more difficult when your first pick is at 99? Sure. Is that more difficult with a roster that’s constructed like ours, where a lot of the spots are somewhat spoken for? Sure, but we want to continue to add players who add to the competition and make us a better football team.”