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49ers' Warner not living up to own high standards in 2021

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Fred Warner

SANTA CLARA -- From the spot at which he lines up on the field, middle linebacker Fred Warner expects to be in the middle of just about everything with the 49ers' defense.

"I just want to do more," Warner said. "I always want to be the guy. I want to be the one who helps make plays for this defense. And something I’ve learned is the harder you press for that, the less chance you’re going to get that."

Warner did not miss a start in his first three NFL seasons. He parlayed an 2020 All-Pro selection into a lucrative contract extension entering his fourth year in the league.

But, thus far, things have not gone as planned for him or the 49ers, who have lost five of their past six games entering a key NFC West matchup against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night at Levi's Stadium.

Warner said he is focusing on little details, fundamentals and technique to turn around his season. He believes improved individual production will have a positive impact on those around him.

"I think when I’m firing, I think the defense is firing," he said. "I full-heartedly believe that, and I put a lot of pressure on my shoulders to be that for the team."

Through eight games, Warner has no sacks, no interceptions, no forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

In pass coverage, he has allowed 20 completions (on 24 targets) for 191 yards and a touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus. He has six missed tackles.


Coach Kyle Shanahan said he believes Warner can play better but does not place all the blame onto the player whom the club signed to a five-year, $95 million contract before the start of training camp.

“Everyone knows we gave Fred a new contract and he's earned every single bit of it," Shanahan said. "I think Fred can play at a higher level. I think he agrees with that also. Everyone on our defense can and everyone on our offense can.

"Fred's one of our best players and one of our leaders. And I know no one's working on it more than him. It’s not more important to anyone than him and Fred will play better and that helps the 10 guys around him. When the 10 guys around him play better, Fred will play a lot better also, so it all goes hand in hand.”

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Shanahan said the mark of a good team is one that gets its top players to play at consistently high levels every game -- regardless of the lengths the opposition takes to limit their effectiveness.

Warner agrees that players such as himself have to set the tone and raise the standard for everyone.

"'A' players have to play like 'A' players," Warner said. "I think we all hold ourselves to such a high standard as it is. that we’re trying everything in our power to try to be at our best and make the plays that we need to make. We got to help bring everybody else along with us.

"Nobody has higher expectations for myself than me, so I’m just going to keep grinding. When I put that ’54’ jersey on, it’s on."

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