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It’s official. After a season of fans and teammates giving 49ers linebacker Fred Warner the moniker “All-Pro Fred,” the nickname has manifested in reality. On Friday, Warner was named a first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press.
In his third season, Warner once again played all 16 games. He’s played in all 51 possible games in his young career.
While linebackers are often measured by their tackling prowess (to be clear, Warner is a stellar tackler), his greatest asset is in coverage. He played a center fielder role in which he locked down tight ends, slot receivers, split ends on crossing routes with consistency. His ability to zone match and go from covering an area to covering a man, and then play step-in-step coverage is not an ability many other linebackers have.
And he was even more disruptive than in 2019. He efficiently read run plays and cracked down to the line of scrimmage, shedding blocks to make short-yardage stops game-in and game-out.
He finished the season with a career-high 125 tackles (five for a loss), six pass breakups, seven quarterback hits, one sack, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
But with Warner, as defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has so often pointed out, much of what makes him great is what doesn’t show up on stats. Because his coverage is so relentless, he doesn’t get many opportunities for sacks or breakups or interceptions. It’s his dominion in the middle of the field which got Warner to this point.
Also named a first-team All-Pro is former 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. It’s the second-straight year in which Buckner has inexplicably been left off the seemingly more inviting Pro Bowl team, but made an All-Pro team. He was a second-team All-Pro last year.