Linebacker Fred Warner has been the 49ers’ best player.
San Francisco's hopes to pull off an upset on Sunday could hinge on his ability to limit the New Orleans Saints’ best player.
Warner will find himself matched on occasion against Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who has 471 yards rushing, 565 yards receiving and a total of eight touchdowns.
In a season when few things have gone right for the 49ers, Warner has remained on the field and productive at the highest level.
“I can’t say enough good things about him,” Saints coach Sean Payton said on a conference call with the Bay Area media. “He’s one of those players that is playing at an elite level. He’s got very good key-and-diagnose. I think he’s an extremely good tackler.
“He can play in coverage. He’s got real good football instincts. I feel like we’ve kind of seen his growth right in front of our eyes.”
Warner was named to the Pro Football Focus Midseason All-Pro Team this week.
He leads the 49ers and ranks 10th in the NFL with 74 tackles. He has allowed a passer rating of just 60.5 when targeted, according to PFF, which is more than 40 points lower than the average linebacker.