Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Execs, players, coaches rank Fred Warner among top-10 linebackers

Jul 15, 2020 at 5:57 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers are well-represented within ESPN's rankings of those who are among the best at their respective positions. Tight end George Kittle, offensive tackle Trent Williams, edge defender Nick Bosa, and Arik Armstead, who was listed as a defensive tackle, have been named, and one more player was added on Wednesday.

The rankings are being compiled by writer Jeremy Fowler, who conducted an extensive poll involving 50 league executives, coaches, scouts, and players. The latest top-10 ranking focused on linebackers, excluding any edge defenders, and the 49ers' rising star, Fred Warner, made the list.

Warner, 23, comes in at No. 10 on a list of names that is led by Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks. At least one executive ranked him as high as No. 4.

"Warner made a late push over Jaylon Smith for the final spot," wrote Fowler, "thanks to several general managers considering Warner a top-eight linebacker. He won the 10th spot in an isolated voting matchup with Smith."

Fowler notes that the 49ers ask a lot of their young linebacker, including calling the defensive plays, anchoring the run, and chasing receivers on third downs. One NFL coordinator noted that, when facing San Francisco last year, he may have underestimated Warner's potential impact on the game.

"I went into our game thinking Kwon Alexander was their No. 1 guy, but Fred Warner stood out the most," the coordinator told Fowler. "Three-down linebacker, physical, active, really smart, can play the over and under stuff like crazy. Impressive."

San Francisco made Warner a third-round pick out of BYU in 2018. His 118 tackles led the team last season, and he added three sacks, 15 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, seven quarterbacks hits, and an interception returned for a 46-yard touchdown.

Adds Fowler: "To be sure, Warner has one of the best defensive fronts to help him clean up. But a separate NFL coordinator said Warner belongs because he's a 'real factor in pass defense, real smart.'"

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