49ers

49ers' Kwon Alexander excited to get back on field, return to Tampa Bay

49ers' Kwon Alexander excited to get back on field, return to Tampa Bay

SANTA CLARA -- Linebacker Kwon Alexander is finally ready for his preseason debut with the 49ers, but he’s finding it difficult to not look ahead to returning to Tampa Bay in Week 1. 

“It’s hard, it’s hard,” Alexander confessed. “But you know, I take it one day at a time. Try to make sure my team is straight and I’m straight so once we get there it’s time."

The 49ers' player-performance staff has been limiting Alexander’s time on the field, moving gradually from individual drills to 11-on-11s, and now finally a game. Alexander has tried not to compare his progress to other player’s recovery timetables. 

“Everybody is different so I’ve been working hard, been working my butt off so it’s time to go,” Alexander said. 

Alexander detailed how it's been a long road back, but also how he knew exactly when he was ready. 

"Once I got my speed,” Alexander explained. “Once I could hit it going really fast, being able to cut and everything, and being able to adjust. Now I’m ready to go.” 

Alexander is excited to get on the field after nearly a year away from the game after tearing his ACL late October 2018. He believes it’s a necessary step in getting ready for the regular season. 

“It’s a big thing for me,” Alexander said. “I haven’t played since a minute now so I’m happy to be back out there. I just think playing instead of practicing, playing in a real game, you know it’s better to be ready for the first game, so you get your feet wet, since I ain’t played so I’m ready to go out there and show what I can do.” 

Being away from the game has made the fifth-year linebacker appreciate it even more. 

“I put a lot on it,” Alexander said, “Just for me, ball can be gone away from you very fast. So it just made me be more humble, and just work harder and harder, and now I’m here.” 

One thing that Alexander has been able to do while being kept off the field is influence fellow linebacker Fred Warner and his leadership style. Alexander had nothing but compliments for his partner on the field. 

“He’s just been doing great,” Alexander said of Warner. “He’s very smart, intelligent, he’s going to be nice. I need to keep his name out there alive, he’s going to be a great middle linebacker.”

Alexander sees Warner’s potential even after only a few months together during the offseason. 

“I’ve already seen it,” Alexander said. “This is his second year, too. I remember my first two years and he’s way ahead of me so he’s going to be a great player.” 

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Along with the excitement of his return, Alexander almost seems a little relieved to have this final hurdle just a few days in front of him. 

“I’m back man, I’m back. When we’ve been practicing, I’ve been working on everything. Now it’s just time to take it to the game. It’s time. I’m ready.”

How adjusting Fred Warner's workload has unleashed his speed for 49ers

How adjusting Fred Warner's workload has unleashed his speed for 49ers

BRADENTON, Fla. — For the second time in as many months, a member of the 49ers has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Month.

Linebacker Fred Warner took home the title for November after Nick Bosa had the honor for October. During the month, Warner tallied 44 total tackles, three sacks, four tackles for loss, three quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. 

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh believes altering the linebacker’s responsibilities has given Warner an opportunity to play with more speed. 

“We’ve taken a lot off his plate so he can just go line up and play,” Saleh said Thursday. “Putting more of the onus on making sure that guys lineup and go play. We were playing some of those read-option teams, the Arizona teams, we’re asking him to make a lot of checks and see if he can get us in the perfect defense. 

“While he’s busy trying to do that, he’s not able to focus on his job. Even though he was getting everyone lined up and everything was perfect, it’s just not fair for him. So, to take a little bit off his plate so he can go ahead and go play, I think that’s really been the difference.”

Saleh is not alone in praising Warner. Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman also has been impressed with the young linebacker's work ethic and growth in his second season. The fact that Warner didn’t play inside until he was with the 49ers makes his accomplishments even more significant. 

“The inside linebacker already has so much on his plate,” Sherman said. “Being able to take some of that off—there was one game I think he had six calls in one play. Where if this guy moves here, he has to readjust the line. He has to tell the DBs this, he has to tell this guy this and sometimes that just doesn’t allow him to play fast.

“He’s getting everybody else lined up to play fast but he can’t play fast. He has to think about all these calls, all these adjustments. Maybe you put a little more strain on the rest of the guys. You spread out the strain and it allows him to play fast and for us to be a better defense.”

[RELATED: 49ers now have logjam at running back with Breida's return]

Now in his second year, Warner sees things developing on the field more quickly. No matter the workload given to him by Saleh, the BYU product has been able to adjust.  

“I think as the year has gone on, he has kind of started to realize what’s too much, what’s too little,” Warner said. “I agree completely. Ever since kind of the midway point of the season, I think he has lined it up for me to just go out and play fast.”  

49ers' Richard Sherman, Dee Ford speak out on Tim Ryan's comments

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AP

49ers' Richard Sherman, Dee Ford speak out on Tim Ryan's comments

BRADENTON , Fla. -- Following radio broadcaster Tim Ryan's one-game suspension for his comments regarding Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, several 49ers players spoke out, believing there was no malicious intent behind what the analyst said. 

Known as being outspoken on most topics, Richard Sherman did not mince words about what Ryan said. He even mentioned that the commentator had personally apologized to several players while at the team hotel after the announcement of his suspension. 

“I know Tim personally, and I listened to the dialogue and saw it, read it,” Sherman said. “Honestly, I wasn’t as outraged as everybody else. I understand how it can be taken in a certain context and be offensive to some. 

“But if you’re saying, ‘Hey, this is a brown ball, they are wearing dark colors, and he has a brown arm,’ honestly sometimes we were having trouble seeing it on film. He’s making a play fake and sometimes he’s swinging his arm really fast and you’re like, does he have the ball? And you look up and [Mark] Ingram is running it.

“So it was technically a valid point but the way he said it, you can always phrase things better. I’ve had a relationship with him since I’ve gotten here and he’s never been anything other than a great guy and a professional and a guy who takes his job seriously.” 

Edge rusher Dee Ford expressed similar sentiments about Ryan’s comments, and confirmed that the two had spoken since the incident. 

“He walked up to me earlier and before he even said anything I told him. ‘I got your back.’” Ford said. “I already knew the story. The words kind of got taken out of context, and of course, now he knows he could have used better judgment with his words. But we got his back. I knew what he was trying to say. 

“This era we live in, it is just what it is, but I know him personally. I speak to him a lot. He loves to watch the D-line and there’s not one -- type of bone -- you know what bone I’m talking about, in his body. So I got his back, so put that to bed really fast.”  

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh also spoke about Ryan’s nature, not believing that there was negative intent behind his comments. 

[RELATED: How Payton, Saints are preparing for imposing 49ers defense]

“I’ve always, as a human being, tried to judge people on how I interact with them,” Saleh said. “And I love the man. He’s a very genuine human being and he knows he made a mistake and he’s just trying to move this on as quickly as possible.” 

Dennis Brown will be on the call with Greg Papa during Ryan’s absence for Sunday’s matchup against the Saints in the Superdome.