During Sunday's battle with the Ravens in Baltimore, 49ers tight end George Kittle looked at the camera and said, "He is special" when referring to linebacker Fred Warner. The advanced analytics agree, too.
Warner has been a Pro Football Focus beast the past two weeks. The second-year pro has 14 run stops, and a 91.6 overall PFF grade in the 49ers' last two games.
Over the last two games Fred Warner has:— PFF SF 49ers (@PFF_49ers) December 3, 2019
14 run stops (most)
91.6 overall grade (highest) pic.twitter.com/tShOGX7rQ0
Fred Warner had another strong game in run defense. He tallied five stops, bringing his two week total to 14, the most of any NFL defender.— PFF SF 49ers (@PFF_49ers) December 2, 2019
Overall Grade: 78.7
Run Defense: 80.9 pic.twitter.com/mjUKod9KHn
Warner, who turned 23 years old last month, recorded a season-high 11 solo tackles in the 49ers' 37-8 blowout win over the Packers two weeks ago. He followed that up with 11 total tackles -- eight solo, three assists -- in San Francisco's last-second 20-17 loss in Baltimore. He has been more than a tackling machine, too, making plays all over the field.
On the fifth play of the game, Warner caused a fumble while hitting Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Week 12. Running back Tevin Coleman scored a 2-yard touchdown on the next play to give the 49ers an early lead.
The young linebacker was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his impressive performance against the Packers.
While Warner's ascension this season might be a surprise to some, it certainly isn't to head coach Kyle Shanahan.
“Fred got to play a ton and exceeded expectations, I think, with everyone his first year," Shanahan said after the 49ers' win over the Packers. "Then, he was just even more hungry, came back like a 10-year vet and came back better mentally, better physically and I think it’s shown to everyone in every game.”
Warner has been more than a run-stopper. He has come up huge as a pass-defender, especially with fellow linebacker Kwon Alexander out for the rest of the season. The former third-round draft pick was credited with two pass defenses last week against QB Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
Here's the play I was referring to.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 1, 2019
Just your average every day play where a Linebacker lines up against a 4.3 WR [Hollywood Brown] and gets the pass defense.
Again. Fred Warner is for real.pic.twitter.com/a46BkYyu2h
Through 12 games, Warner has six pass defenses -- tied for his season total last year. He also has three forced fumbles, three sacks, six tackles for loss and four QB hits.
Simply put, Warner was a steal in the draft last year and quickly is turning into a star.