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 Rob Leiter/Getty Images) /

No. 5: Fred Warner patrols the middle of the field expertly with opposition players rarely given an opportunity to make a play

Turnovers might show up on the stat sheet, however, turnovers aren’t always the best plays.

Yes, turnovers will stand out more as they can change the course of a game, however, other plays can have just as big an impact. Passes defended, for defenders anyway, are an example of plays that stand out but possibly don’t stand out as much as turnovers.

Fred Warner is an expert in covering the middle of the field. He excelled in coverage in college and Warner has transferred that to the NFL with ease.

Week 13 against the Baltimore Ravens was one of Warner’s best games played all year, and Warner produced two standout plays, one of which is downright ridiculous and shouldn’t be made by an inside linebacker. But that’s what makes Warner so great.

Anyway, back to the other play Warner made in the Week 13 matchup.

It was 4th-and-5 on the Niners 40-yard line. The Ravens motioned to empty, and San Francisco was again in Cover 4 with Warner, again, responsible for the middle hook zone.

The Ravens ran a smash concept on both sides. The outside receivers ran hitch routes with the inside receivers running corner routes over the top. The Ravens were trying to create a high-low stretch on the 49ers cornerbacks. However, with the Niners in Cover 4, they had this covered.

You can check out the film-review breakdown of this play here.

This left one receiver, tight end Mark Andrews, running a shallow cross from the defenses left to right over the middle of the field. Andrews ran straight at Warner, tried to put a move on him and break across Warner’s face. That did not work as Warner stayed patient, waited for Andrews to break, and then followed him in trail technique briefly.

Lamar Jackson, the Ravens quarterback, threw the ball in Andrews’ direction, but Warner dove in front of Andrews, undercutting him and reaching across to break the pass up.

Truly exceptional.