LB Fred Warner
LB Fred Warner
Press Conference – January 24, 2020
San Francisco 49ers
How have you seen defensive coordinator Robert Saleh evolve during your time at the 49ers as a coordinator?
“I think just any time you have more experience with the people around you, I think you get a little bit more comfortable with the guys, him being able to, you know, he knows the guys who he’s coaching. It allows him to just be able to coach better, I guess. I think any time you do something, you’re going to get better at it with reps or with experience. So he’s done an outstanding job. I feel like he’s a guy that doesn’t get talked about enough. So, yeah, he’s been great.”
Do you feel the trust between you guys grow from last season to this season?
“Yeah, for sure. I mean, as a rookie, hadn’t played in the box or even given calls before, so it was an adjustment for sure. There was a learning curve. But this year, he’s been great about just keeping up with me, just seeing where I’m at, if it’s too much, and lightening the load for me so I can go out and just play fast and be able to anticipate what the offense is doing.”
Is that an added responsibility that you enjoy, kind of being the brain trust on the field and everything that he throws at you?
“Yeah, for sure. I feel like it’s an honor just to be able to be out there and have the green dot and give the calls. I take a lot of pride in that, and I try and make sure I’m the most prepared every single week with my own preparation individually, outside of our meeting rooms and stuff like that, just making sure I’m watching tape.”
What kind of challenge does Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce provide that’s unique to tight ends around the league?
“I think he, I mean, the dude is a receiving threat for sure. They like to put him in a lot of different positions to get him to catch the ball, and he knows what to do with it after he catches it. So I mean, he’s a mismatch for sure. You don’t really know who to put on him. You put a safety on him, he’s a bigger body. You put a linebacker on him, he’s shifty, he’s fast. So he’s going to be a challenge for us for sure.”
Is film work something that you gravitated towards even when you were back in school, or is it something you’ve evolved and appreciate to take more advantage of?
“Yeah, it’s something that for sure evolved over the years. I think, being introduced kind of more in college to it, there were some guys, mentors, guys that I even talk to to this day. [New England Patriots LB] Kyle Van Noy was a guy that went to BYU and kind of took me under his wing, and he was a film junkie from being at BYU, and I kind of took that from him. And then obviously, once you get to the NFL, it’s a whole nother ball game. You can’t just go out there just hoping you’re going to figure things out. You’ve got to be able to anticipate what’s going on. You can’t know that unless you’re looking at the tape so you can see what they’re giving you.”
I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, but there’s a long proud tradition of linebackers here, especially in the recent past. Just to be part of that and to be so successful so fast after being part of that lineage, how important is that to you?
“It means a lot. It really does. Last game, you know, I’ve talked to [former 49ers LB] Patrick Willis a couple times, but he was on the field, and we just had a little encounter where he gave me a handshake before the game, and we just shared that little moment. But you mentioned it, this organization has a long history of having great linebackers, and I knew ever since I stepped onto this team, that I wanted to fall in line and just work my butt off every single day to try and be the best player I can be.”
CB K’Waun Williams, one of the more overlooked players on your guys’ defense, he can help you guys in the box or just coverage, and got a strip sack on Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. What can you say about the guy who can play almost like a linebacker amongst you guys and how he just grinds every day?
“You’re right. I think he does get overlooked a lot. I don’t even think people talk about the strip sack a lot, just from what I’ve been seeing. But I think it’s just because he puts his head down, and he just works day in and day out. He doesn’t try and look for praise or any of that. I mean, the guy, he does it all for us. He’s unwavering. You know exactly what you’re going to get out of him every single day, and when you put him on the field on Sundays, you know, I have so much respect for him. We call him the shark just because he eats. He’s out there, and he might be a smaller guy because he’s a nickel, but the dude is one of the most physical players I’ve been around, and the way he attacks the ball is something that I try to replicate when I’m out there.”
Is there something about Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid’s system that is going to test you mentally? Whether it’s misdirection or the volume of things that he can do. Does his system pose a challenge mentally?
“Oh, yeah, of course. Not just to myself, though, that’s just to the entire defense in general. I mean, he’s been doing it for a long time. I’m sure it’s evolved over the years, but the way he uses his weapons that he has, having one of the best quarterbacks in the game right now with the weapons he has around him, they’re able to do a lot of different things. That’s why I think you kind of see the success that they have. So, yeah, we’ll make sure we’re covering our bases.”