Fred Warner has been rewarded with a five-year contract extension, but a former 49ers great's praise might be an even bigger compliment.
This coming fall, Patrick Willis will be inducted into the franchise's Hall of Fame. The All-Pro linebacker has been very complimentary of Warner’s play on the field, and the newly extended leader of the defense has been humbled by the comments.
“Fred has done a great job of being the linebacking core,” Willis said after the announcement of his induction. “For me, really excited to see that, and happy to see the next man’s success. To be a part of a linebacker legacy, to leave something behind that others can grab onto and make their own, it feels really special.”
Warner has expressed heartfelt gratitude for the support he has received from Willis throughout his first three seasons with the 49ers. The two linebackers communicate regularly, including this week after Warner’s extension was announced.
“We talk, and he did message me and congratulate me so that’s my guy,” Warner said. “It’s really cool to have that relationship with him. It’s incredible to have somebody like that even speak so highly of yourself and man, so grateful for him.
“It gives me so much confidence that I’m doing something right if somebody of his caliber, the way that he played the game, and the standard for excellence, effort, and passion, the way he played the game, to have his nod and knowing that there’s a long way to go from where I want to be and to even touch that level of play.”
Warner has been the “quarterback” of the defense since being drafted in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. In 2020 he was not only voted to the Pro Bowl, but received First-Team All-Pro honors as well.
Warner’s leadership is appreciated by the front office and respected by his teammates. The BYU product has even become a resource and advocate for players who have questions about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine after receiving the vaccination himself.
Now, under the tutelage of new defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, Warner and Co. are set to play fast and attempt to surpass their dominant 2019 defensive performance.