Since 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander sustained a season-ending torn pectoral, middle linebacker Fred Warner has elevated his game to another level.
On Thursday, Warner was recognized as NFC Defensive Player of the Month.
In his four games in November, Warner registered 10 or more tackles in each game. He picked up three sacks, three passes defensed and forced two fumbles.
Warner, a second-year player from BYU, becomes the second consecutive 49ers player to win the award. Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa won the honor for October.
Warner played well Sunday in the 49ers’ 20-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens despite the significant challenge of trying to slow down quarterback Lamar Jackson and the top-ranked offense in the league.
“All the misdirection and everything they have, especially with the quarterback runs, can really lock a guy up,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I thought he played as good as any of the linebackers that I’ve seen play them on tape and as it got going.
“They were good in the beginning, but they got better as the game went because the more you see that stuff, the more you get a feel for it. When you’ve got a guy like Fred, who’s very natural at things and football comes to him the right way, he just got better as the game went.”
Warner has taken on more responsibility since Alexander, a vocal leader on the defense, sustained his injury. Warner’s responsibilities include relaying the play call from defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to his teammates in the huddle.
“It was usually him calling the plays and Kwon being the energy guy,” Bosa said. “And now it’s him doing both. He calls the play. He gets us lined up. And he brings the energy, so he’s really important.”