No. 4: Fred Warner Finding His Stride
When the 49ers selected former BYU linebacker Fred Warner in Round 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft, they were still uncertain what the future would hold for then-Niners linebacker Reuben Foster.
In hindsight, that precautionary move looks pretty smart.
Foster is no longer in San Francisco, and it’s looking as if Warner will now be the primary backer for the Niners for a long, long time. Through 14 weeks, Warner’s 96 tackles leads all 49ers defenders. The next player on that list, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, has just over half that number.
Granted, Warner had some tackling issues earlier this season. According to Pro Football Focus, he still leads the team with 12 missed tackles. Since Week 10, though, Warner has missed just two. And both of those came on the road against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13 in what was an ugly game by San Francisco all around.
Warner has also shown his pass-coverage skills too, registering a 72.0 grade in this category, according to PFF, which is more than respectable for a rookie.
His early struggles certainly look far behind him. And if the trajectory continues along this same path, there is little doubt Warner will be a cornerstone for San Francisco’s defense for quite some time.