It's time to recognize Fred Warner as a star.
Around the NFL, it appears that finally might be happening. ESPN asked over 50 executives, coaches, scouts and players to rank the top players in the league at 11 positions, excluding special-teamers. Among all linebackers -- inside or outside -- Warner rounded out the top 10.
Warner, 23, is ranked as the No. 10 linebacker in football going into the 2020 NFL season. One person ranked Warner as high as the fourth-best linebacker.
"I went into our game thinking Kwon Alexander was their No. 1 guy, but Fred Warner stood out the most," an NFL coordinator said to ESPN. "Three-down linebacker, physical, active, really smart, can play the over and under stuff like crazy. Impressive."
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The 2018 third-round draft pick only has two seasons under his belt, yet defensive coordinator Robert Saleh asks him to do it all. Warner calls the defense, stuffs the run game and covers receivers with ease.
Warner totaled 118 tackles -- 89 solo -- with three sacks, three forced fumbles, nine passes defensed and one interception returned for a touchdown. He truly is the perfect hybrid linebacker for the modern NFL, and even intercepted Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LIV.
Where Warner really thrives is defending the pass. He already is among the best linebackers when it comes to breaking up passes, and had a 74.5 coverage grade across 1,166 total snaps last season. That was the fifth-best grade of any linebacker who played at least 1,000 snaps.
"He's a real factor in pass defense, real smart," another coordinator told ESPN.
Finding himself in the top 10 after only two seasons shows just how much Warner means to the 49ers. If he continues the pace he's on, Warner only will rise up these rankings.