BYU head coach Kalani Sitake had a lot to say about San Francisco 49ers rookie linebacker Fred Warner, who was the first of two third-round draft picks by the team. Sitake joined the 49ers Studio Podcast this week and praised Warner's intelligence – and not just on the football field.

"There are so many businesses that want to hire him right now if football doesn't work because of how he approaches his life and how he handles his academics and everything," Sitake said. "And his work ethic, it's unbelievable.

"But when it comes to football IQ, this kid would come off the field, and I could go to him right away, and he would tell me where the deficiencies were. Usually, you go to your coaches up in the box to kind of tell you what's going on. He can handle that on the field right away. He would know where there was a breakdown, and that's really impressive for me as a coach to have a guy that can access what the issues were right away rather than going to the box all the time. He can do it in real time on the field.

"He just understood the defense really well. He knew where all 11 guys should be and he can teach and correct things right on the field when normally you'd have to do it on the sidelines when the defense is off the field."

Sitake described Warner as the perfect example of a student of the game. The linebacker watches game film more than anyone he knows. It's that preparation that he feels attracted the 49ers to Warner.

"That's why the coaches in San Francisco loved him," Sitake said. "This is his passion. He'll be in the film room more than anybody there."

When Sitake first got the head coaching job at BYU in 2016, he asked Warner to play a different position because of his unique traits – or combination of traits.

"It was more like a hybrid nickel/safety/linebacker type," Sitake said. "And the reason is, he's a big kid, but he can run. He can run like a safety, so we asked him to play on the outside, outside the box, and to cover a lot of slot receivers, and to run with them. And he handled them just fine.

"We played some great teams with a lot of speed, and he didn't have any problems covering those guys. I think he'll do well in the NFL covering slot receivers and tight ends. It shouldn't be a problem for him.

"By being outside the box, he was able to get a lot of stats for a guy that's never around the ball really when the play starts. He's always in the picture when the play ends."

In his last two seasons with BYU, Warner registered 173 total tackles, 19.5 for a loss, 2.5 sacks, and four interceptions. In 2016, he was named a first-team All-Independent. Last year, Warner had three games with at least 10 combined tackles and was named the team's MVP.

Sitake sees Warner having a lot of success with the 49ers because of his intelligence, speed, and length – attributes that have become common among San Francisco's additions.

"You've got a gem there," Sitake said. "One of the best players I've ever been around. Not just with talent but the overall package. The kid, he gets it, and he loves football. He worked extremely hard to get to the level he's at now, and he's a great teammate. I could probably go on and on about him and the things he's done for me and this program but, more than anything, he's a guy that's all about the team.

"We didn't have a great season last year. 4-9. But you can't find one rep where Fred has taken a play off. There were some games where the game was already set, we weren't going to win the game, and there's one guy that's playing extremely hard like it's the first play of the game. And he did that every game and every play that he had here at BYU."