Accolades and awards have been rolling in for Fred Warner, but not because he made drastic changes in his third NFL season.
Warner might be just now becoming a household name but he is anything but an overnight success.
Coach Kyle Shanahan has been impressed by Warner since the 49ers drafted him in 2018. The Pro Bowl linebacker's recent notoriety doesn’t come as a surprise, as Shanahan understands that Warner's success is based on a foundation of consistent work.
“He keeps finding ways to get better,” Shanahan said Friday. “I think Fred played at a Pro Bowl and an All-Pro level last year and I think he got rewarded for that this year, but his game still even took a step forward.
“It's cool to watch a guy who, we talk about being deliberate in everything you do and not just going to the meeting, but like really getting stuff out of it. Fred is so deliberate in everything he does. The way he eats, the way he sleeps, the way he listens, the way he takes a rep, everything is so focused and locked in to try to get better.”
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh sees the same focus from Warner on the practice field and the results have shown in games. The linebacker has led the team in tackles for the past three seasons, all while wearing the “green dot” as the quarterback of the defense.
Saleh worked to reduce the BYU product’s responsibilities last year so he could play faster. Warner has flourished in his third season while taking on more responsibilities, showing he can excel in coverage by snagging two interceptions and breaking up six passes.
Saleh, like Shanahan, believes Warner’s success is rooted in his lifestyle of healthy habits.
“When we're in practice, he reps every rep as if it's a game, which is what you strive for as a player,” Saleh said Thursday. “But there's days where, I just know it, where I'm sure he doesn't want to get up, but he finds a way to get up for every single meeting, every single practice, every single walkthrough, every single individual period. He doesn't waste a rep.
“Because of that, he's finding ways to get better every single day. There is not a day that goes by where I don't think he goes to bed better than he was when he woke up and that's the ultimate goal of every person in life, in my opinion.”
Shanahan said much can be learned from his linebacker’s focus and determination. His habits are applicable both on and off the field, in sports or in everyday life.
“When you're like that, I don't care who it is or what sport it is or what job, whatever it is,” Shanahan said. “When you are locked in and then kind of in the moment and present in stuff that you're working at so hard and you have ability, then you've got a chance to get better every single day.
“Fred just stacks days up. That's how he lives his life and when you're able to do that every day and not having any bad luck with injuries, too, you only get better. That's why Fred, he's had people who have helped him, but that guy is self-made, and it's with his mindset and work ethic and how he lives his life every day. That's why he continues to get better."
If you were looking for a New Year's resolution idea, the 49ers have one for you. Just be more like Fred Warner.