Fred Warner

49ers' Fred Warner already forming bond with injured Kwon Alexander

49ers' Fred Warner already forming bond with injured Kwon Alexander

SANTA CLARA — Linebacker Fred Warner is looking forward to his second season with the 49ers, which includes partnering up with 49ers free-agent acquisition Kwon Alexander

Even though Alexander was held out of the offseason program rehabbing his ACL, Warner is not worried about building chemistry with him on the field. The two are already getting to know each other very well. 

“Yeah, just little things off the field, you know, hanging out with each other,” Warner said after the last practice of minicamp on June 13. “And I think we will have plenty of time during training camp leading up to the season to do that too.” 

Warner and Alexander are regularly seen standing together during practice, deep in conversation. The two were spotted in the back of the end zone last week, which Warner says is on purpose. 

“It’s good to stand back there because then we can see everything, from that point of view,” Warner said. “We go through close calls and seeing different adjustments that we’re making. Most of the time we’re just talking trash to the offense too.”  

Alexander, who is set to be ready to participate in team drills during training camp, appears to be itching to get on the field. He was regularly seen during OTAs and minicamp excitedly jumping around on the sidelines after a big defensive play. 

Linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans knows just what Alexander’s personality brings in practice and in meetings.

“He’s been great for us because he brings a different type of energy,” Ryans said during OTAs. “He brings swagger that I think we were kind of missing. He brings that edge that we needed. And he’s been great in our meeting rooms.” 

Warner co-signed Ryans’ description of Alexander. 

“He brings a lot of energy,” Warner said. “He’s brought a swag to the group for sure. I’m looking forward to seeing him out there running around. I see him during workouts and he looks great.”  

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Warner says you can even see that energy from Alexander on the sidelines while watching practice film. 

“Kwon hasn’t been out there on the field but he’s been out there and you see him jumping off the tape, from the sideline, it’s funny,” Warner said.  

Warner and Alexander likely will be paired up once the season begins, provided that the veteran is healthy. During the offseason, the defense’s new wide-nine alignment showed three linebackers on the field at once with Malcolm Smith, David Mayo, Elijah Lee and rookie Dre Greenlaw getting a good share of the snaps. 

49ers linebacker Fred Warner looks to improve after solid rookie year

49ers linebacker Fred Warner looks to improve after solid rookie year

SANTA CLARA — Linebacker Fred Warner had a lot put on his plate as a rookie. Going into his second season as a pro, he's leaning on a wild first year.

“I’m expecting [my game] to grow a lot,” Warner said. “Having that experience from Year 1, obviously playing a lot of snaps, I think all parts of my game can improve. 

“Specifically I’m looking forward to working on tracking the ball, making sure that I’m improving on tackling, just communication, having clean eyes, and being able to anticipate things a lot quicker.”  

Warner explained that while he had a lot of responsibilities, he never felt like it was too much for him to handle. He added that linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans increased his workload as his experience grew. 

“I think they knew that they could rely on me, they never gave me too much,” Warner said. “DeMeco was always checking in with me to make sure that I wasn’t too overwhelmed and whatever they told me to do, I did it.

“They gave me more and more as I got more confident throughout the season, so leading into that last game against the Rams, we had a lot of stuff going on, but that’s when I was the most confident, in the last game of the year.” 

Warner’s experience is helping him look at last season’s game film with a new set of eyes, figuratively. He already sees ways he could have improved his performance. 

“No doubt,” Warner said. “I’m watching film right now and I’m looking at different things and I’m like, ‘Dang I would have called that’ or ‘I wish I was out there so we could do this,’ but I feel our defense is doing a great job right now. 

“Guys who maybe have not gotten as many reps are stepping up during this OTAs doing an outstanding job and I’m looking forward to getting back out there with them.” 

The defense has gotten notably faster after several key additions during the offseason and Warner believes it gives the group “swagger.”

“I think every year that we get more of that chemistry together as a group, I feel like that’s where it comes out, our confidence,” Warner said. “The more we can play with that, the more we can instill fear into our opponents on game day. They should be able to turn on the film and be like 'Oh, man. We got the Niners this week.’

“I think that with coach Kocurek, they are being taught to come off the ball hard and fast so they are going to create a lot of penetration which should create a lot of edges and so it’s our job to make them right, as linebackers. We are behind the ball for a reason so we can see everything and play off of them.” 

[RELATED: Jason Verrett feeling confident about his return]

Warner, like many players sitting out of team drills during OTAs and minicamp, is itching to get back on the field. But he knows that being patient is what’s best for him in the long run. 

“A lot of that you don’t have much control over,” Warner said. “You just have to listen to what the trainers tell you, and that’s what I’ve been doing. They have a plan for me and I’m just going to follow that, but yeah, just taking one day at a time.” 

DeMeco Ryans explains how 49ers' linebackers room has vastly improved

DeMeco Ryans explains how 49ers' linebackers room has vastly improved

DeMeco Ryans has high expectations for the 49ers' linebackers going into the 2019 season with the key addition of Kwon Alexander and continued growth of Fred Warner. 

There is a sense of urgency for the 49ers defense to turn the corner after they added pass rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa to the team. Ryans, the team's linebackers coach, knows the bar is high for his group as they move forward from the departure of Reuben Foster. 

Bringing in someone like Alexander will be a big boost. 

“He’s been great for us because he brings a different type of energy,” Ryans said. “He brings swagger that I think we were kind of missing. He brings that edge that we needed. And he’s been great in our meeting rooms.” 

Alexander is still being held out of practice while he continues rehabbing his ACL with an expectation of being full-go at training camp. Ryans is confident he will assimilate seamlessly. He also noted that if Alexander had his way, he’d already be practicing. 

“He will get enough reps in training camp where he will get familiar with the system,” Ryans said. “He’s ready to go now, you kind of have to slow him down. He gets too excited, when guys make a play on the ball out there. 

“I’ve seen him a couple of days ago jumping up and I said, ‘Man, you’re ready to go right now, aren’t you?’” 

The 49ers have their eyes on Alexander right away at the beginning of free agency. He brings a set of different qualities that should thrive in Robert Saleh's defense.

“Athleticism, and speed when he hits someone in zone coverage, he knocks them back,” Ryans said. “He really brings a lot of speed to the defense.”  

Ryans also expects improvement from Warner going into his second season. The team put a lot of responsibility on him in the MIKE position and were impressed by his ability to handle the pressure. 

“He could take another step just now being a year in and everything kind of slowing down,” Ryans said. “Being a rookie, we asked a lot of him last year and he didn’t blink an eye. He was like, ‘Yeah I can do it, I can do it.’ 

“He’s very cerebral and can handle a lot. We want to take some of his plate a little bit and just let him go out and play fast. He’s mature and is going to succeed at whatever he does.”  

Though he's only a second-year pro, Warner's football inteligence and understanding of the defense jumps out right away.

“Sharp kid,” Ryans said. “He asks very good questions. If he asks a question sometimes you’re like, ’Man, I didn’t think about that.’ As a coach he keeps me on my toes, making sure I have all ends covered. It’s really good having a really smart guy in the room.” 

[RELATED: What Bosa is missing while being sidelined at 49ers OTAs]

Ryans likes the balance between the veterans and younger players in his group. He believes that their speed will be an important quality in 2019 as the improved pass rush forces opposing quarterbacks to get the ball out faster.

“We expect the quarterback’s process to speed up,” Ryans said. “We expect to not have to cover as long. We expect the ball to come out a lot quicker.”