SF 49ers: Biggest winners, losers from Week 7 thrashing of Patriots
Winner: SF 49ers Linebacker Fred Warner
Linebacker Fred Warner has played elite football nearly every snap this entire season, so last Sunday’s game against the Patriots was nothing more than a reminder of how talented he is. A third-round pick from BYU three years ago, his performance has been critical for the SF 49ers to keep fielding a top-10 defense despite the injuries.
So when the national media, specifically CBS Sports’ Tony Romo, starts giving Warner his due because of the game, that’s a clear winner from Sunday. Romo said on the broadcast Warner was “an All-Pro in every sense of the word,” and doubled down on his praise by calling Warner the best linebacker in all of football.
No arguments here.
What is worth discussing with Warner, beyond the interception, stellar coverage, seven solo tackles, and quarterbacking of the defense to a dominant performance, is just how exception the level he is currently playing at.
In his third year, Warner is on pace for 130 tackles and five interceptions. Obviously the interceptions are likely not going to reach that high, but his play, just off the stats, has been exceptional. In fact, it’s quite similar to another 49ers third-round pick at linebacker who was a stud off the ball.
NaVorro Bowman is a Hall of Fame talent who played at a Hall of Fame level before injuries sidelined his career. But Warner’s third year is right there with Bowman’s. Bowman finished that season with 148 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, and two sacks, so Warner has already passed him during that third year as a ballhawk but is behind elsewhere slightly.
Even if the stats paint Bowman as slightly ahead, the fact Warner is on par with a player of Bowman’s ilk is significant.