The 49ers Must Pay Fred Warner Now

The 49ers have locked up every position heading into 2021, and to keep the thread of the successful offseason going, locking up No. 54 is mandatory.
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What a crazy offseason it has been so far for the San Francisco 49ers.

A few months ago, the 49ers had 27 unrestricted free agents with limited cap space. No one had any idea of how things were going to play out.

But Those questions were all answered. The 49ers were able to bring back a majority of those free agents, and most importantly, they were able to bring back their three biggest free agents. 

Trent Williams, Jason Verrett and Kyle Juszczyk will all be wearing the red and gold in Santa Clara next season, all signing deals that help the team in the present and the future. The 49ers were also able to bring back Jaquaski Tartt, Emmanuel Moseley, D.J. Jones, Jordan Willis and K’waun Williams, solidifying some starting and rotational pieces for first-year defensive coordinator Demeco Ryans.

The team also was able to bring in new pieces outside of the organization. They signed Alex Mack to a three-year deal to solidify the center position, and were also able to bring in more depth pieces on both sides of the ball, including edge rusher Samson Ebukam, defensive tackle Zack Kerr, wide receiver Trent Sherifield, cornerback Dontae Johnson and safety Tavon Wilson.

However, they did lose some pieces in the process. Kendrick Bourne is now a Patriot, Kerry Hyder and Akhello Witherspoon are both Seahawks, Solomon Thomas is on the Raiders, Tevin Coleman is joining Robert Saleh and Mike Lafleur in New York to play with the Jets, and C.J. Beathard is now a Jaguar.

With that in mind, you would think the 49ers would be done making moves for the remainder of the week, right?

Not so fast.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter dropped the biggest of bombshells Friday morning when he reported the 49ers received the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the No. 12 overall pick in the 2021 draft, two firsts in the 2022 and 2023 drafts and a third round pick in the 2022 draft. The assumption moving nine spots in the draft is that the 49ers will now be taking a quarterback with the No. 3 pick, and the names to keep an eye out for include Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones.

With everything that has happened, some would say this has been a perfect offseason thus far for the 49ers. The team was able to resign a majority of its big free agents and traded up to get their franchise quarterback of the future, all while still having around $19 million in cap space and not having to forfeit any other picks in the 2021 draft outside of No. 12.

There is one more thing that the 49ers must do to make this the perfect offseason. And in my opinion, they must do this as soon as possible:

They must re-sign and extend star linebacker Fred Warner.

Warner is entering the fifth year of his rookie deal. The former third round pick from the 49ers in 2018 has a cap number of $3.6 million according to Overthecap.com, and Warner showed last season he is worth so much more than that.

Warner has shown time and time again the value he brings to this 49ers team. He has not missed a game since coming to Santa Clara and has proven to be the leader of the defense. Per Pro Football Reference, Warner had two interceptions and 125 tackles in 2020 and had a missed tackle rate of 5.3%. Furthemore, when opposing quarterbacks target Warner, they have a 69.7 QBR. To continue, Warner was targeted 61 times and had 38 completions on him only for 270 yards, and that was with no Nick Bosa on the defensive line.

Bobby Wagner and C.J. Moseley are making $18 and $17 million annually, so Warner could be looking at a deal between $18 million and $22 million. As mentioned previously, the 49ers have currently around $19 million in cap space, and could find ways to make more money without getting rid of Jimmy Garoppolo.

Warner is undoubtedly worth every penny the 49ers would pay him. Letting a player of his caliber potentially hit the open market is something the 49ers should try to avoid at all costs. Now that the potential quarterback of the future could be picked at the No. 3 spot, it’s in the 49ers best interest to do everything they can to lock in their quarterback of the defense now.

And based on what we’ve seen them do so far this offseason, it seems like the 49ers are going in a direction to lock up No. 54 for the long run in the coming months.

Vincent Saglimbeni is a contributor to All49ersSI. Follow him on Twitter: @vinnysaglimbeni.