To dominate a team as good as the Green Bay Packers is truly a great accomplishment for the San Francisco 49ers. The talent level and coaching of the team continues to show why they are the best in the league. As great as the coaching has been, they cannot have their plans come to fruition without the execution of their players.
The 49ers do not blowout the Packers if not for the phenomenal contributions of linebacker Fred Warner. The guy was a heat seeking missile out there on Sunday night and set the tone for the game early-on with a strip-sack fumble on Aaron Rodgers. It was plays like that and more that got Warner his elite Pro Football Focus grade of 92.9.
His stellar performance against the Packers has also earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week. The name Fred Warner is starting to become a household name for football fans. Now that he is finally being recognized as a star player, Warner deserves All-Pro consideration for this season. He is by far one of the top linebackers this season.
The pass rush of the 49ers' defense gets the most recognition, but Warner is just as worthy for the top credit of their dominance. The drastic jump from last season to this season that he has taken is nothing short of phenomenal. Even Kyle Shanahan acknowledges it when he asked about Warner's leap this season.
“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.”
Such high praise coming from Shanahan to say that Warner looks like a "10-year vet". It is more than warranted because of what Warner does. His pass coverage this season has been noted as one of the best of all linebackers, but that hasn't been his only strength. Warner has been excellent when Robert Saleh sends him in on a blitz. He doesn't do it often, but when he does he produces amazing results like the strip-sack on Rodgers.
Warner is also underrated when defending against the run. The 49ers' defense received some slack that they struggled against the run. However, the reality is that they actually were fine against it. It was really just the week nine game that they were decimated in. Otherwise, they have held up quite fine. That's due in part because Warner and the rest of the linebackers take the proper angles.
They immediately fire off to make a hit on the running back with a tone-setting play. That is why he deserves All-Pro consideration. Warner does every thing at such a high-level and is a tone-setter. Every player that makes All-Pro sets the tone for their team and that is what Warner does. He has taken on the role of leader and energizer for the defense with Kwon Alexander out for the season.
When praising the 49ers' defense as elite, Warner is a player that must be mentioned. His impact on the defense is felt on every level. The future is very bright at the linebacker position for the 49ers. Dre Greenlaw has looked like a stud filling in for Alexander, who was also playing at a high-level. And then there is Fred Warner is playing at, not only a Pro Bowl level, but an All-Pro level.