From Day 1, it has been clear outside linebacker Fred Warner was a steal by the 49ers in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Warner has started every game since his rookie year, and already has looked like a star.
Through his first two seasons as a pro, Warner has totaled 242 tackles and 10 for loss. Where he really thrives, however, is in pass coverage. While he only has one interception in the regular season, Warner has the fourth-most pass breakups among linebackers over the last two seasons.
Here's what makes this even more impressive. Warner has done so in his first two years in the NFL. Kendricks has played five seasons, Littleton four and Kuechly retired this offseason after an eight-year career.
Warner has accounted for 15 passes defensed the last two seasons, according to Pro Football-Reference, and he added two more in the playoffs. When the 49ers survived a 34-31 Week 16 win over the Los Angeles Rams, Warner had an elite 90.3 coverage grade, per Pro Football Focus.
Fred Warner had another #elite performance last night with a 91.5 overall grade including an #elite 90.3 coverage grade.
See more of Warner's dominance over the past month and a half against the pass at https://t.co/CFlkRmYQ2y pic.twitter.com/N9SU4NureL— PFF SF 49ers (@PFF_49ers) December 22, 2019
He also stepped in front of Tyreek Hill to intercept Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LIV.
A HUGE pick by Warner ‼️ pic.twitter.com/Y6S56BIkiv— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) February 3, 2020
In the modern NFL, teams need linebackers who can cover tight ends over the middle and running backs out of the backfield. That's exactly what Warner does, and why he's such a big key to the 49ers' dominant defense.
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