Fred Warner on SF 49ers defensive mindset: ‘Next man up’
By Peter Panacy
Linebacker Fred Warner broke down the SF 49ers’ defensive mindset on the Jim Rome Show, breaking down the response to the wave of injuries.
Whatever roster the SF 49ers roll out for the remainder of the 2020 season and hopefully into the playoffs, third-year linebacker Fred Warner already understands just how important it is for everyone on the team to embrace their respective roles.
Even if those roles end up increasing over what their initial intentions were heading into Week 1.
The Niners, of course, have dealt with a serious rash of injuries on both sides of the ball. In Week 2 alone, San Francisco watched as defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas, two former first-round NFL Draft picks, suffered season-ending ACL tears. The SF 49ers also lost running backs Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert to knee injuries, while also losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a high-ankle sprain.
Coleman, Mostert and Garoppolo could miss multiple weeks, yet the Niners responded by beating the New York Jets in Week 2 by a score of 31-13 and then upending the New York Giants 36-9 the following week.
“Next man up,” Warner said on the Jim Rome Show this week when asked about the team’s mindset. “That’s how the NFL is. Guys are going to get injured. We obviously miss Nick and Solly. Those are two huge losses, not only to the defense but to the team. But there are always going to be injuries in this league, and guys have to step up.”
One of the primary beneficiaries of Bosa and Thomas’ absences has been depth lineman Kerry Hyder who, through three weeks, leads the defense with two sacks and six quarterback hits.
Hyder, one of San Francisco’s offseason free-agent acquisitions, recorded his second sack of the year in the Niners’ lopsided win over the Giants last Sunday. Fellow EDGE Dion Jordan also added another, while the SF 49ers are hoping to get more pass-rushing prowess out of the recently signed veteran, Ezekiel Ansah.
“We have a very deep team,” Warner added. “Especially at D-line, and I think you saw that this past Sunday with guys stepping up and making plays and causing that disruption in the backfield.”
SF 49ers defensive pressure created turnovers
There’s no questioning the losses of players like Bosa and Thomas hurt the Niners’ overall defensive prowess. San Francisco is way down in sack totals this season with five, while the Pittsburgh Steelers lead the league with 15.
But the SF 49ers’ pressure rate is 25.4, which ranks seventh-best in the league through three weeks.
And that’s helping cause turnovers.
The Niners defense generated three of these last Sunday against the G-Men, and Warner recorded his first interception of the season and the second of his career during the game.
“Before the play, our safety [Jaquiski] Tartt, reminded me they like that route,” Warner said. “That formation was one we talked about, and I just kind of baited the quarterback.”
The play came at the 1:03 mark of the second quarter, and Warner’s interception ultimately led to San Francisco tacking on a field goal to go up 16-6 before halftime.
The Niners would open up their scoring floodgates in the second half after wearing down New York’s defense, and Warner ensured his side of the ball wouldn’t be a liability against any Giants comeback.