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) /
9 of 11
Fred Warner, 49ers
Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

No. 3: Fred Warner and the 49ers defense have started to disguise coverages whilst also disguising themselves

How can a player disguise himself? Well, it isn’t that Fred Warner disguised himself as much as it is the fact an opposing quarterback can’t see over the offensive linemen protecting the said quarterback.

The said quarterback is Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals. Murray measured in at 5-foot-10 at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. Murray’s left tackle for the 2020 season measures in at 6-foot-4, and Murray’s right tackle is 6-foot-5.

That is how Warner disguises himself. Warner uses the opposition’s quarterback’s teammates against the quarterback to give himself the upper hand.

In Week 9 against the Cardinals, Warner had the opportunity to record his first-ever pick-six in the NFL. Warner outlined why he plays defense rather than offense, though, by dropping the ball.

At the start of the second quarter with Arizona facing 2nd-and-29 on their own 17-yard line, the Cardinals motioned to empty, three receivers to the defense’s left and two to the defense’s right. Warner approached the line of scrimmage, attempting to make it look like he was blitzing. Warner does not blitz.

Robert Saleh has called for the 49ers to drop back into Cover 3 with Warner playing the left middle hook. Warner dropped back into coverage and read the play perfectly, placing himself directly in the passing lane between quarterback and receiver.

Arizona called for a curl route at 5 yards from the slot receiver with the outside receiver running a go route to clear out the underneath defenders for the out route from the No. 2 receiver — receivers are counted from the outside in — with the outermost receiver being the No. 1 then the next receiver being the No. 2, etc.

Warner read the throw to the three, or slot, receiver almost so perfectly that he surprised himself.

That must be why he dropped the ball, right?