Fred Warner becomes the leader of the 49ers defense

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Fred Warner role as San Francisco 49ers’ defensive back is to exist as destructive offensive antimatter. Every type of matter in the universe has an antimatter equivalent. Once they make contact, destruction ensues. A similar physics applies to the lattice. Warner is a defensive particle who has the opposite effect of his more prolific attacking counterparts. Instead of having the ball in his hands, Warner wants it on the pitch.

Warner’s green dot responsibilities mark him as the centerpiece of the league’s strongest defense, and over the past five years he’s been as prolific in his offense-denying duties as any offensive lineman not named Patrick Mahomes or Tom Brady.

Warner is the Ray Lewis of this generation. In a mirror universe with more defensive priorities, Warner, 26, would be celebrated with the same eulogies as his peer Joey B. This writer would find the words to shower Warner with proper recognition as he prepares to lead the 49ers to their second Super Bowl appearance in four years .

During Sunday’s divisional-round win over the 49ers, Warner’s contributions were key for the Cowboys postseason elimination. Warner’s intermediate pass coverage skills may go unnoticed due to the nature of his job, but he is one of the best linebackers in the league. The lack of positive offensive plays makes him invisible to the naked eye, but his impact on the second layer of the defense is a fixture that constantly makes San Francisco’s defense problematic.

Nick Bosa gets fame for his physical proximity to linebackers, but middle linebackers don’t generate the recognition that shooters who fly off the rim do and pressure precious passers.

Tackles for loss and zone coverage deflections aren’t as sexy as sack players, interceptions, and one-on-one man-on-man defense on the outside. San Francisco will make Bosa the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player this offseason. Warner is currently ranked 20th behind a dozen other pass rushers and cornerbacks.

The Niners still have an uphill battle ahead of them

All of that said, the 49ers are at a significant disadvantage with three prominent running backs left in the postseason. Jalen Hurts, Joe Burrow, and Patrick Mahomes shared fame in the form of Heismans, NFL MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and national championships. Brock Purdy is outstanding in their reverse structure. Kyle Shanahan’s quarterbacks have always been at the bottom of the totem pole. Just as his father, Mike, could replace Hall of Fame running backs in his zone run scheme with undrafted free agents without missing a beat, the San Francisco defensive back was more valuable than the offensive lineman.

But that was less than a year ago Aaron Donald’s game-saving rudeness he brought the Los Angeles Rams their first Super Bowl. Of the remaining teams left for conference championship weekend, San Francisco is the only one with a talent of Aaron Donald’s caliber. Their trifecta of All-Pros includes Warner, Bosa, and the security of Talanoa Hufang. Warner is the key though. His sideline-to-sideline agility is key to the league’s best defense, and his vertical coverage skills when he drops back have unlocked an elite pass defense despite San Fran’s deficiencies at the position.

Warner’s influence

Warner is the ideal Mike linebacker hybrid in the modern era of spread passing attacks, tasked with rushing down the seam with No. 1 receivers or blowing up crossing routes. He did plenty against the Cowboys.

Wherever Warner roamed, negative plays developed. Warner’s presence wiped out Dak Prescott and the Cowboys high-octane offense. His Elmer interception of a ball intended for CeeDee Lamb in the red zone took at least three Cowboys points off the board.

Warner’s interception was the start of a disastrous sequence before halftime that triggered the end of the Cowboys’ game season. Purdy calmly paced the Cowboys raised defense, led the 49ers down the field, and swung the score by six points.

Warner’s step by step coverage by Lamb midway through the third quarter after faking a blitz at the line of scrimmage and then racing 30 yards downfield was a momentum-changing play by San Francisco’s second-ranked defense. Warner stopped Dallas’ momentum once again in an incredible display of athleticism for a lanky 6-3 linebacker. Warner recorded a team-high nine tackles, one tackle for a loss, an interception, and disrupted several other plays.

Eagles’ the offensive line has dealt with the likes of Micah Parsons twice this season. However, San Francisco has his own chase Phenom and Warner provides equal value at the next level, making them the most dangerous defensive team in football. Hurts’ Eagles ran pretzels around the NFL en route to the league’s best record, but Warnerov defense will be their most difficult problem so far.

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