49ers film room: Why Fred Warner is already a top 3 linebacker

Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Fred Warner, 49ers
Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

No. 6: Fred Warner set the standard for the 49ers defense early in the season and made sure that the standards didn’t drop

With the offense clearly struggling in the first few weeks of the season, it was up to the defense to take up the slack and produce turnovers as well as keeping the opposition’s offense quiet and limiting the points given up.

In Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 49ers defense produced four turnovers.

The first turnover of the year was obviously created by the leader of the defense, Fred Warner.

The Niners were again in Cover 4 with Warner again playing the middle hook zone. O.J. Howard, the Buccaneers’ tight end, lined up on the end of the line of scrimmage. Howard ran a spot route at about 5 yards downfield. Howard caught the ball and turned upfield only for the ball to be met with Warner’s right fist, which can be viewed in the film breakdown here.

Warner dislodged the ball and defensive end Ronald Blair recovered it. Well, the ball bounced into Blair’s arms, giving the 49ers defense their first turnover of the season.

Then came the wild celebrations from San Francisco, or more like a belated response. One that screamed of a team that didn’t know what to do when it created a turnover after a record-low seven turnovers in 2018.

The Niners defense recorded more than half of that number after Week 1 in 2019.