49ers defensive captains held a players-only meeting for that side of the ball ahead of Week 10 versus the Rams, and the results spoke for themselves.
Usually, a players-only meeting is a sign of tough times. A team might be struggling, losing games that were otherwise winnable or something along those lines.
The Niners entered that game having lost four of their last five contests, and they also had gone 0-3 within the NFC West with the very real chance of falling to 0-4 within the division, also pushing the winless streak at Levi’s Stadium even further beyond the year-plus mark it already was at.
A week after falling in embarrassing fashion to a depleted Arizona Cardinals squad, San Francisco defensive captains Fred Warner, Arik Armstead and Jimmie Ward met before facing off against Los Angeles to come up with some solutions. On top of that, defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans asked the trio to speak with the rest of the defense.
Fred Warner, Jimmie Ward talk about 49ers defensive players-only meeting
Warner sat down with NBC Sports Bay Area’s 49ers Talk Podcast with Laura Britt and Matt Maiocco to detail how that meeting came about and what the results were:
"Sunday night before the Monday game, DeMeco had asked for us three captains on the defense, me, Jimmie, and Arik, to just speak to the defense. And I asked him, “Well, do you mind if the coaches were to step out while we spoke to them.” Of course, him, being a player himself back in the day, he understands and had the players just kind of talk amongst one another.And I thought it was a great meeting. I thought we left that meeting all on the same page of what we wanted to accomplish and get done for that game."
Multiple times this season, the 49ers have been called out for lacking a true leadership core, which is kind of surprising considering the role Warner has and the fact Ward is now the longest-tenured player on the roster.
Ward, who recorded two interceptions during the game, one of which was a pick-six touchdown, later went on to describe to KNBR 680 his perspective of the meeting that took place before Monday’s game:
"We ended up having a meeting with the team captains on defense. I can’t really speak too much on the offense. Then, we just gave the players, the younger players, and just everybody else, just our thoughts heading into the game and heading into the season, where we think we’re at right now.Basically, what we said is, “We’ve just got to continue to grind, just take one game at a time, one day at a time. And if we all work together, then I think we can come away with some wins.”"
It must have worked. The Niners generated their most complete and impressive win of the season by beating a Super Bowl-contending Rams squad 31-10 in dominant fashion.
Hopefully, this is all a sign of San Francisco finally getting that leadership quality out of players like Warner, Ward and Armstead.
Hat tip to 49ers Webzone for the find.