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Fred Warner is a wealthy man. At just 24 years old, the San Francisco 49ers off-ball linebacker signed a five-year, $95 million contract extension on Thursday, making him the highest paid player at his position in the entire NFL.
And you know what? Warner has earned that extension.
The BYU product is coming off his first All-Pro season since he was drafted in the third round back in 2018. In three seasons, he’s racked up 367 tackles, including 15 tackles for a loss. He’s also added four sacks, five forced fumbles and three interceptions, two of which came in 2020.
Of those stats, the most notable area for improvement, at least according to Warner, lies with those sack numbers. Now that he’s making close to $100 million, he feels the need to contribute even more to the team’s success.
“It’s all little things that I’m continuing to work on because at the end of the day, I do want to have that game-changing ability,” Warner recently said, via NBC Sports Bay Area.
And what does “that game-changing ability” include? Well, the 49ers defense wants to generate more of a pass rush in 2021, which means they might need Warner to provide more pressure on the quarterback.
“That is for sure a point of emphasis going into this season, the blitzing,” Warner proclaimed. “I know I’ll have more opportunities in the pass-rushing game and forcing fumbles.”
If Warner can become an effective pass rusher, even as an off-ball blitzer, and continue as a coverage linebacker, then the sky is the limit. He is already one of the best players at his position.
Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans should have some fun utilizing the young talent.
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Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.