49ers

49ers' Fred Warner ranked as top-10 linebacker in NFL by this poll

49ers' Fred Warner ranked as top-10 linebacker in NFL by this poll

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."

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

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. 

[RELATED: What Garrett's reported extension means for Bosa, 49ers]

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.

NFL rumors: Seahawks 'talking to both' Everson Griffen, Clay Matthews

NFL rumors: Seahawks 'talking to both' Everson Griffen, Clay Matthews

Jadeveon Clowney no longer fits into the Seattle Seahawks' plans -- nor is he a consideration for the 49ers -- due to the free agent's salary demands. It's difficult to see a path in which he would return for a second season with the Seahawks -- that is, unless he significantly lowered those demands.

Nobody, including the Seahawks, is counting on that. Consequently, they reportedly have turned their attention to two other free agent pass-rushers: Everson Griffen and Clay Matthews.

NFL Media's Mike Silver reported Thursday that Seattle could soon come to an agreement with one or both of the veteran free agents.

"The Seahawks' price has come way down," Silver said. "Clowney's price, if anything, is above their original $15 million-plus offer. So, maybe the (Tennessee) Titans, but we'll see on Clowney. But yeah, Everson Griffen -- long career with the (Minnesota) Vikings -- and then Clay Matthews, who had I thought a pretty good year with the (Los Angeles) Rams after he was healthy after his long run in Green Bay. Two former (USC) Trojans who can get after the passer. They are talking to both and I think a move could come pretty quickly, at least with one of them."

Griffen was drafted by the Vikings in the fourth round in 2010 and has spent his entire career with the franchise up to this point, amassing 74.5 career sacks over that span. Matthews, meanwhile, spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Packers before joining the Rams for this past season. He has totaled 91.5 sacks over 11 seasons, including 8.0 in 2019.

[RELATED: Bosa believes Kinlaw will 'kill it' in his 49ers rookie season]

Both Griffen and Matthews would present a significant upgrade for Seattle's pass rush, particularly considering Clowney is unlikely to be a part of it. The Seahawks' 28 sacks last season tied for the second-fewest in the NFL. Their adjusted sack rate also ranked 30th in the league, and that was with Clowney.

While Griffen and Matthews have both been productive, neither is the potential game-wrecker that Clowney is. Nonetheless, should Seattle add one or both of them, it should only make the Seahawks more competitive within the NFC West.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers' Nick Bosa expects Javon Kinlaw to 'kill it' in rookie season

49ers' Nick Bosa expects Javon Kinlaw to 'kill it' in rookie season

Nick Bosa already had no doubts 49ers rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw would be able to immediately compete in the NFL due to his strength.

And after taking part in an offseason of video meetings and seeing him for a short period of time on the 49ers’ practice field, Bosa is confident Kinlaw will not be overwhelmed mentally, either.

“Javon is a really good kid,” said Bosa, 22, who also happens to be 20 days younger than Kinlaw.

The 49ers selected Kinlaw with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to, in effect, take the spot of DeForest Buckner, whom San Francisco traded to the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason for a first-round pick.

“He’s really hard-working in the meeting room,” Bosa said of Kinlaw. “He knows all his stuff really well. He doesn’t seem like a rookie out there. We’ve only been out to a couple of walk-throughs so far and he knows his stuff. He doesn’t look like a rookie.”

[RELATED: Bosa Bros have talked about possibility of playing together]

When Bosa said Kinlaw doesn't look like a rookie, he also means that his body type is impressive. Kinlaw is listed at 6-foot-5, 319 pounds.

“He’s one of the biggest humans I’ve ever seen in person," Bosa added. "That says a lot when you’ve had Arik (Armstead) and Buck on your team. I’m just excited for him to have this opportunity, and I think he’s going to kill it.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]