49ers

Kwon Alexander receives support from 49ers teammates after season-ending injury

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Kwon Alexander receives support from 49ers teammates after season-ending injury

The 49ers' 8-0 start couldn't come without a few bumps in the road.

Kwon Alexander left Thursday night's 28-25 road win over the Cardinals with a chest injury. It later was confirmed that he had torn his pectoral muscle and will miss the remainder of the season.

The devasting blow had the linebacker's 49ers teammates and others sending him well-wishes. But not before Alexander took to Twitter to let the world know he'd be OK ... and more importantly, he'll be back. 

49ers teammates Arik Armstead, Richard Sherman and Dre Greenlaw were a few of those offering support:

Greenlaw's words are imperative, as the rookie is expected to take over Alexander's spot on the 49ers' defense.

The 49ers do have a bit of time to think about it, however. Their next test doesn't come until Nov. 11 against the Seattle Seahawks.

Jed York reflects on 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo trade before Super Bowl 54

Jed York reflects on 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo trade before Super Bowl 54

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers CEO Jed York in 2017 was looking for an offensive-minded head coach who could get the most out of his quarterback.

But when the 49ers hired coach Kyle Shanahan, the organization did not have any quarterbacks under contract at the time free agency began.

General manager John Lynch and Shanahan informed Colin Kaepernick he did not fit the team’s offensive plan and would be released, so Kaepernick opted out of his contract. The 49ers had no interest in re-signing Blaine Gabbert, either.

Instead, the 49ers signed Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley at the start of free agency. C.J. Beathard was drafted, and Nick Mullens signed as an undrafted rookie.

But the 49ers did not add the quarterback they knew would be their answer until the middle of the 2017 season when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick offered QB Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for just a second-round draft pick.

“When we made the trade in the middle of the season, Kyle was probably the most conservative with it,” York said. “Everybody from Mandy Shanahan (Kyle’s wife) to all our fans were ready for him to start Day 1.

“But we had to make sure that we did it the right way. And we didn’t do something just because it was going to get the fans fired up. We wanted to put Jimmy in the right situation to be successful.”

York said Shanahan told Garoppolo he might not take a snap in a game for the rest of the season, as Garoppolo had to learn at least the basics of the offense. Shanahan told Garoppolo that he was not on an audition.

Garoppolo was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and the club was going to, at least, put the franchise tag on him for more than $23 million to keep him around for the 2018 season.

[RELATEDHow Shanahan, Lynch make 49ers CEO York's job easier]

Garoppolo got his first chance to start in Week 13, and it began a remarkable stretch of success for the 49ers. The club began the season 0-9, and after five consecutive victories with Garoppolo as the starter to finish the season, the 49ers finished at 6-10.

Five weeks later, York signed off on a five-year, $137.5 million contract for Garoppolo. The 49ers got little return on that investment in 2018 when Garoppolo sustained a torn ACL in Week 3.

This season, Garoppolo flourished as a starter in all 18 games en route to Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday in Miami.

Garoppolo earned immediate trust and confidence from his teammates and the entire organization since his arrival in Santa Clara, and he has done nothing to give anyone in the organization reasons to doubt him ever since.

[RELATED: How Jimmy G's impact on 49ers goes beyond the numbers]

“If you don’t have a quarterback who can win in big games and big moments, it’s really, really hard to get to this point,” York said. “And Jimmy, obviously, exceeded any expectations in those games that you could ever ask for a player coming into an organization.

“And he’s continued to improve, he’s continued to work, he’s continued to get better. If you don’t have a quarterback, to me, you just don’t have a chance. It was a must.”

How Fred Warner became quality field general, leader for 49ers defense

How Fred Warner became quality field general, leader for 49ers defense

Fred Warner sat quietly in the 49ers locker room on Friday, seemingly insulated from the activity around him. His eyes were locked on a tablet displaying Kansas City Chiefs film. He scrolled back and forth, scanning the offense for tendencies and clues on how to defend it.

There were but a few moments between the time he plopped down and his weekly press conference, but he wasn’t letting spare seconds slip.

The 49ers middle linebacker clearly was taking advantage of every waking moment to prepare for Super Bowl LIV’s clash with the dynamic Chiefs attack.

All 49ers defenders will fine-tooth comb leading up to the championship game, as they have before each clash. It’s particularly important Warner understands what Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s offense can and will do, and how the 49ers' defense will respond.

The green dot demands it.

That indicates Warner is the 49ers' signal caller, relaying defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s play calls to players on the field. He’s chiefly responsible for making checks and ensuring defenders are in proper position to make plays.

“I feel like it's an honor just to be able to be out there and have the green dot and give the calls,” Warner said. “I take a lot of pride in that, and I try and make sure I'm the most prepared every single week with my own preparation individually, outside of our meeting rooms and stuff like that, just making sure I'm watching tape.”

Just like he was in moments before uttering this quote Friday afternoon. Warner assumed the responsibility as a rookie last season and has grown into an adept field general capable of making sure the 49ers are in position to react quickly. He has been a rock in the middle, keeping the team's linebackers afloat this season after Kwon Alexander went down with a pectoral injury. 

Warner has been excellent calling plays and executing them in his second professional season. He has 124 tackles, six passes defensed, a forced fumble and three tackles for loss in a year where he played 99 percent of all defensive snaps. He was even the NFL's Defensive Player of the Month in November. 

Warner’s also in great sync with Saleh after nearly two seasons working with him.

“As a rookie, hadn't played in the box or even given calls before, so it was an adjustment for sure,” Warner said. “There was a learning curve. But this year, he's been great about just keeping up with me, just seeing where I'm at, if it's too much, and lightening the load for me so I can go out and just play fast and be able to anticipate what the offense is doing.”

Saleh talks extensively about removing gray area from his game plans, and taking some from Warner's plate, so his guys can react quickly and use immense talent to make plays. Reid’s offense can be complex, with ways to deceive defender’s eyes and make them a step slow. That’s death against Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his track team of skill players.

“It's our job as coaches to try to make it ... you're always just trying to tell them a story and you’re trying to make it as easy as possible,” Saleh said. “You don't want to show them every play that coach Reid has run in the history of his system. You'd die, I think. But, at the same time you do have to -- coach Reid has a philosophy and we have to find a way to pull that out so the players can understand it.

“… It's our philosophy in this system to eliminate gray area from players, as much as you can. Gray area always creates hesitation. You want these players playing in a world of black and white so they know what's expected of them so they can go as fast as humanly possible.”

[RELATED: Chiefs' Travis Kelce poses tough challenge for 49ers in Super Bowl 54]

Warner must have great understanding before the snap and relies on Saleh and extensive film study. He has grown to enjoy his homework and the mental side of a violent, yet cerebral game.

“That's something that for sure evolved over the years,” the BYU alum said. “[New England Patriots LB] Kyle Van Noy went to BYU and kind of took me under his wing, and he was a film junkie. I kind of took that from him. And then once you get to the NFL, it's a whole ‘nother ball game. You can't just go out there just hoping you're going to figure things out. You've got to be able to anticipate what's going on.

"You can't know that unless you're looking at the tape so you can see what they're giving you.”