Fred Warner has vowed to become even more.
After receiving his first Pro Bowl nod, the 49ers linebacker already has promised to set up an offseason plan that will propel him to be even better in 2021. Warner is not concerned about potential contract talks, but rather becoming more of an impact player on the field.
Warner, who is known by his coaches for being well prepared and deliberate in everything he does, spoke Monday about how the accolades he received are not enough. The BYU product has other goals in his sights.
“I’d rather be respected than liked,” Warner said. “When I step out there, that’s what I’m playing for -- respect amongst my peers most definitely. That’s my highest priority when I step onto the field.”
Teammates and coaches of Warner believe his first Pro Bowl nod was long overdue. The linebacker has just been thrust into the national spotlight but for them, none of it is a surprise. It was inevitable.
“Those things are not what fuels me to play this game at the highest level that I can,” Warner said. “I’m playing this game for my family, first and foremost. I play this game for respect. Ultimately, I’m trying to win a Super Bowl.
“I’m not playing for the Pro Bowl or All Pro, I’m playing for that ring on my finger at the end of the year, and that’s what hurts the most at the end of this season, knowing we don’t even have a shot at it. It kills me, it really does. It’s been eating at me and it’s going to drive me that much more into this offseason.”
The praise that Warner has received will not take away the pain of missing the playoffs, nor change his goal-oriented focus. He also refuses to be distracted by future contract discussions trusting that John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan and his agent will get a deal done to lockdown the linebacker’s future.
Warner has lead his team in tackles in each of his three seasons with the 49ers all while making the defensive calls on the field. He has shown his ability to be a jack of all trades on the defense, not only being a part of the pass rush but also getting back to playing in coverage, which he showcased in college.
Warner, like both Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, believes he is only scratching the surface of what he can become.
“I’m going to come in this offseason, I know it’s going to be my best one yet,” Warner said. “I have no doubt about it. I’m going to be very meticulous how I go about it, everything is going to be planned out step by step.
"You’ll see a completely different player next year.”