How 49ers' Kwon Alexander is bringing out more energy in Fred Warner

How 49ers' Kwon Alexander is bringing out more energy in Fred Warner

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The 49ers' signing of free-agent linebacker Kwon Alexander during the offseason has helped second-year standout Fred Warner develop as a voice of the team's defense. 

Alexander is known for his energy. Even before he was cleared to participate in practices once he recovered from tearing his left ACL last year, Alexander would jump up and down on the sidelines every time the defense made a positive play. 

Warner, who was more reserved in his rookie season, has come out of his shell during the preseason. Alexander is at least partially responsible for that evolution. 

“I’ve been telling him, you’ve got to match my energy today, and he goes out there and does it,” Alexander said. “He’s very vocal, talking to us. He’s out there making crazy plays and he’s going to keep doing that.” 

That liveliness was very evident in the first of two joint practices with the Denver Broncos. 

“It’s way more exciting for us than playing against our squad the whole time,” Alexander said. “Now to go out here and compete against the other guys, talking a little smack and competing, that’s what we were out there doing."

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has noticed the difference in Warner’s behavior, and he is excited to see it develop. Saleh likes the balance between the two leaders in the linebackers room. 

“Fred is coming into his own,” Saleh said. “He wanted to obviously, last year, as a rookie, but having Kwon with him because Kwon is very vocal, it’s bringing out Fred. 

“Fred is very confident, rightfully so. He’s a good football player, so they are what a linebacker group is supposed to do. So I don’t over-pump them up for being what they’re supposed to be. It’s a good group.”

Warner's enthusiasm and ability were on full display Friday, especially when he pressured Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco during team drills. He forced Flacco to throw without a full look at the field on one play, and the ensuing pass went right into the hands of safety Tarvarius Moore for an interception. 

That's all part of a linebacker's responsibilities, according to Alexander. 

“We are the leaders of the defense,” Alexander said. “You know linebackers have to take control, and be vocal, and be loud, and have the energy and everybody will feed off of you. That’s what we are trying to do.” 

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The 49ers linebackers even have a new name for themselves this season. They actually break down their position group huddle calling themselves the “hot boys.” 

“It’s just something that we made up as a linebacker group,” Alexander said. “We want to be hot every day so when somebody is cold, we pick them up, we stay hot. That’s how it is. We just hold ourselves accountable and everybody’s got to have energy in the linebacker group. That’s what it is.”

49ers place Trent Taylor on IR, re-sign veteran tackle Sam Young

49ers place Trent Taylor on IR, re-sign veteran tackle Sam Young

The 49ers on Friday signed veteran offensive tackle Sam Young to a one-year contract and placed wide receiver Trent Taylor on injured reserve.

Taylor, who underwent surgery Aug. 10 to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot, must sit out for at least eight weeks before he is eligible to return to the 49ers’ 53-man roster and appear in a game.

Originally, the 49ers placed Taylor's timetable to return at four to six weeks. As recently as last week, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said he hoped Taylor would be able to return to action after the 49ers' Week 4 bye.

Taylor was expected to be one of the team’s leading pass-catchers this season before he sustained the fracture to the fifth metatarsal on his right foot. Since the 49ers selected him in the fifth round of the 2017 draft, Taylor has appeared in 29 games and caught 69 passes for 645 yards and three touchdowns.

The 49ers re-signed Young, who was among their final cuts before the start of the regular season. The 49ers require more depth at offensive tackle after Joe Staley broke his left fibula, an injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Rookie Justin Skule is scheduled to start Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers at left tackle.

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In his nine-year NFL career, Young has appeared in 88 games with 21 starts with Dallas, Buffalo, Jacksonville and Miami. Young will wear No. 65 for the 49ers.

Why Richard Sherman believes it's good to have unhappy high-profile players leave their teams

Why Richard Sherman believes it's good to have unhappy high-profile players leave their teams

SANTA CLARA – Players in the NFL do not have the advantage of guaranteed contracts, such as those in the NBA. But more and more, NFL players are leveraging their star status to bounce from one team to another.

And cornerback Richard Sherman, the 49ers player representative and a vice president on the NFL Players Association’s executive committee, views that as a positive all the way around.

“I’m sure the owners don’t like that,” Sherman said. “They don’t want to give up any power or for players to flex their power, but I think it’s good for the game. It’s good for the game to have some differences.”

Wide receiver Antonio Brown forced a trade from Pittsburgh to the Raiders this spring. Then, he got his way out of Oakland in order to land with the New England Patriots. The Steelers this week acquired Miami defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick after the second-year safety demanded a trade from the Miami Dolphins.

Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey has requested a trade out of Jacksonville. Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams and Chargers running back Melvin Gordon are high-profile holdouts. Former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell sat out all of 2018 in order to hit free agency, where he landed a lucrative contract with the New York Jets.

Sherman said he believes the player movement is good for the game because it is different than what the NFL has experienced in the past. Until recently, it was rare for high-profile players to switch teams at the heights of their careers.

[RELATED: Jimmy G headlines 49ers to watch in Week 3 vs. Steelers]

Now, marquee players -- such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Khalil Mack who were traded to Cleveland and Chicago, respectively – are moving with more frequency for ample draft-pick compensation.

“People are starting to realize the first-round picks aren’t as valuable as they used to be,” Sherman said. “It’s what can you do for me now? Rather than waiting and developing a player who may develop or may not develop, you’re getting players that you know who they’re going to be. You know what they are.”

Sherman said an added benefit of players exercising their rights to get out of bad situations is it should inspire NFL teams to treat their players better in order to foster loyalty.

“I think players are becoming more volatile and more frustrated and more angry, and (they are) doing their best to get out of those situations,” Sherman said. “So, hopefully, these organizations treat these players better and players move forward and it works out well for both sides.”