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Warner shares details of 49ers' defensive-players-only meeting

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Fred Warner, Jimmie Ward

SANTA CLARA – Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans asked the 49ers’ captains on that side of the ball to say a few words.

Linebacker Fred Warner issued a request of his own.

“DeMeco had asked for us three captains on the defense, me, Jimmie (Ward) and Arik (Armstead) to speak to the defense,” Warner said on the latest episode of "49ers Talk." “I asked him, ‘Well, do you mind if the coaches were to step out while we spoke to them?’

“Of course, being a player himself back in the day, he understands and had the players just talk amongst one another. I thought it was a great meeting. We left that meeting all on the same page of what we wanted to accomplish and get done for that game.”

The 49ers responded the following evening with their most complete performance of the season -- a 31-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium.

It is impossible to know if the defensive meeting had any impact on what happened in the 49ers’ Week 10 game, but everything they spoke about came to fruition.

“I told them that tomorrow night all these guys were going to be on the field and this was going to be the group that would help win this game,” Warner said. “The coaches obviously do their job in coaching, but the players make plays at the end of the day, and that’s what wins games.


“We needed our playmakers to make plays, and I talked to them about how we need to take the rock (create turnovers) if we wanted to win the game. So my guy Jimmie did that two times.”

Ward collected interceptions of Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford on the 49ers’ first two defensive series of the game. On the second interception, Ward returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. The defensive score gave the 49ers a 14-0 lead near the end of the first quarter.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he did not learn of the players-only defensive meeting until later.

I really don't know what was said or care much because I like the result,” Shanahan said. “I think it's always great when players hold each other accountable.”

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Warner agrees that the leaders on the team are largely responsible for getting everyone to play with the proper mindset. The purpose of the meeting Sunday night was to outline the steps necessary for the defense to elevate its game to the next level, he said.

“I think it’s supposed to be a player-run team and guys holding each other accountable,” Warner said. “We had to take that on, more so, these past weeks, and I think guys have done a good job of it.

“And I think it showed on Monday night.”

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