SANTA CLARA – Linebacker Fred Warner is the same player as a year ago when he earned All-Pro honors and a lucrative contract extension.
But with no interceptions, forced fumbles or sacks, the dramatic game-impacting plays have been in short supply for the leader of the 49ers’ defense through the first nine games of the 2021 season.
“Coming off a good year last season, I wanted to up the stakes,” Warner said on "49ers Talk." “I wanted to be a better player. I wanted to be a more dominant player.
“So any time that things might not be going your way or you’re not attaining those goals or imposing your will like you’d like to, that’s what eats me up.”
In speaking with reporters at Levi’s Stadium, Warner was asked about his level of satisfaction with the season he is having.
“I think just the short answer is I can be better,” Warner said. “I always look back to are you getting better or are you getting worse? And last year, I was playing at a high level, obviously All-Pro, Pro Bowl.
“Am I doing that right this second? I wouldn’t say so. I’d say we have eight games left that I can prove that I can be a better player for this team and myself.”
The entire 49ers defense is coming off a strong showing in a 31-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night at Levi’s Stadium, so things for Warner appear to be trending in the right direction.
The club returns to action on Sunday to face the Jacksonville Jaguars in a Week 11 game that could get the 49ers back to the .500 mark on the season.
Warner parlayed his first three NFL seasons into post-football security of a five-year contract with more than $92 million. Warner said he initially dealt with self-applied pressure that comes with trying to live up to the significant pay raise.
“It was kind of a little piece of it in the back of my mind, like OK, well, I got to show up,” Warner said. “I got to show out. I got to do more. I got to do this, do that and so, it probably hindered me a little. But I’m past it.”