49ers

49ers linebacker Fred Warner looks to improve after solid rookie year

49ers linebacker Fred Warner looks to improve after solid rookie year

SANTA CLARA — Linebacker Fred Warner had a lot put on his plate as a rookie. Going into his second season as a pro, he's leaning on a wild first year.

“I’m expecting [my game] to grow a lot,” Warner said. “Having that experience from Year 1, obviously playing a lot of snaps, I think all parts of my game can improve. 

“Specifically I’m looking forward to working on tracking the ball, making sure that I’m improving on tackling, just communication, having clean eyes, and being able to anticipate things a lot quicker.”  

Warner explained that while he had a lot of responsibilities, he never felt like it was too much for him to handle. He added that linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans increased his workload as his experience grew. 

“I think they knew that they could rely on me, they never gave me too much,” Warner said. “DeMeco was always checking in with me to make sure that I wasn’t too overwhelmed and whatever they told me to do, I did it.

“They gave me more and more as I got more confident throughout the season, so leading into that last game against the Rams, we had a lot of stuff going on, but that’s when I was the most confident, in the last game of the year.” 

Warner’s experience is helping him look at last season’s game film with a new set of eyes, figuratively. He already sees ways he could have improved his performance. 

“No doubt,” Warner said. “I’m watching film right now and I’m looking at different things and I’m like, ‘Dang I would have called that’ or ‘I wish I was out there so we could do this,’ but I feel our defense is doing a great job right now. 

“Guys who maybe have not gotten as many reps are stepping up during this OTAs doing an outstanding job and I’m looking forward to getting back out there with them.” 

The defense has gotten notably faster after several key additions during the offseason and Warner believes it gives the group “swagger.”

“I think every year that we get more of that chemistry together as a group, I feel like that’s where it comes out, our confidence,” Warner said. “The more we can play with that, the more we can instill fear into our opponents on game day. They should be able to turn on the film and be like 'Oh, man. We got the Niners this week.’

“I think that with coach Kocurek, they are being taught to come off the ball hard and fast so they are going to create a lot of penetration which should create a lot of edges and so it’s our job to make them right, as linebackers. We are behind the ball for a reason so we can see everything and play off of them.” 

[RELATED: Jason Verrett feeling confident about his return]

Warner, like many players sitting out of team drills during OTAs and minicamp, is itching to get back on the field. But he knows that being patient is what’s best for him in the long run. 

“A lot of that you don’t have much control over,” Warner said. “You just have to listen to what the trainers tell you, and that’s what I’ve been doing. They have a plan for me and I’m just going to follow that, but yeah, just taking one day at a time.” 

George Kittle likes what he's seen from Ross Dwelley taking his spot

George Kittle likes what he's seen from Ross Dwelley taking his spot

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Ross Dwelley cannot replace George Kittle in the 49ers’ offense, but he came up with some huge plays in the 49ers’ 36-26 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

While Kittle missed his second consecutive game with knee and ankle injuries, Dwelley stepped up with four catches for 14 yards. His statistics were not prolific, but they were important contributions in San Francisco's ninth victory in 10 games this season.

The 49ers were trailing 16-0 in the first half before Dwelley caught touchdown passes of four and five yards from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Those were the first two touchdown catches of his NFL career.

Then, he had a huge first-down pickup on a third-and-3 play late in the fourth quarter to set up the Garoppolo-to-Jeff Wilson pass that provided the winning points in the closing minute.

Kittle spoke in the locker room after the game on the condition that he only be asked questions about Dwelley, who has started six consecutive games for the 49ers due to injuries to fullback Kyle Juszczyk and, now, Kittle.

“I don’t think anyone really saw that coming when he first got here and the strides he’s taken in these last two years is incredible,” Kittle said of Dwelley, who came to the 49ers last season as an undrafted rookie from the University of San Diego.

“A lot of that is on our coaching staff and tight ends coach [Jon Embree], but a lot of that is on Ross and the time he spends in here getting his body right and mentally. He’s just doing such a great job for this team.”

Kittle compared Dwelley's ascendance to the way quarterback Nick Mullens stepped in last season when he was needed after injuries to Garoppolo and C.J. Beathard. Kittle said he has not had to spend a lot of one-on-one time with Dwelley during the time he has taken over as the starting tight end because Dwelley is on top of things.

“Fortunately, a guy like Ross doesn’t really need a lot of help,” Kittle said. “He’s been preparing to play. He prepares every game like he’s going to start, and he’s going to play every single rep, so he just hopped in, pretty similar to Nick last year.

“He just hops in, and he’s ready to go, and there’s not a lot of, ‘Hey, get your toes wet.’ He’s just out there going full speed, and that’s what you want out of the guy.”

The 49ers hope to get Kittle's services back next week for the team’s Sunday night game against the Green Bay Packers. Kittle leads the 49ers with 46 receptions for 541 yards and two touchdowns in seven games.

[RELATED: How crazy final-play TD in 49ers' victory affected bettors]

Dwelley has 14 catches on the season for 66 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a clutch third-down conversion two weeks ago that helped the 49ers clinch their Week 9 victory over the Cardinals.

Odd 49ers-Cardinals ending results in 'miracle push' of betting line

Odd 49ers-Cardinals ending results in 'miracle push' of betting line

At the conclusion of the 49ers' win over the Cardinals on Sunday, you likely were doing one of three things: running around the room in celebration, breaking everything in sight or crying with laughter.

The first description applies to those who bet on San Francisco to beat the 10-point spread.

The second description applies to those who bet on Arizona.

The third, of course, applies to everyone else who had the enjoyment of watching the Cardinals fumble multiple times on a game-ending hook-and-ladder play that resulted in a 49ers' defensive touchdown that made the scoring margin -- you guessed it -- 10 points.

Yep, when D.J. Reed returned the fumble for a touchdown to put the 49ers up 36-26, it secured what those in the betting world would refer to as a "miracle push." San Francisco spotted Arizona 16 points to begin the game, so Cardinals' bettors were looking great ... until they weren't.

[RELATED: Watch Wilson's late TD catch in 49ers' win vs. Cardinals]

They shouldn't be too upset, though. Just think, it could have been worse. After all, the 49ers never got the chance to attempt an extra point at the end of the game. Then again, the Cardinals missed one in the first quarter.

On second thought ... be upset. Be very upset.