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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

NFL coordinator praises Fred Warner, 49ers linebackers as ESPN ranks playoff chances

Aug 31, 2020 at 8:06 AM--

ESPN took a look at last season's 12 playoff teams and ranked their chances of making the postseason this season. The San Francisco 49ers, for those who are curious, came in at No. 4. Only the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, and New Orleans Saints ranked higher.

Writer Jeremy Fowler notes that, beyond tight end George Kittle, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's arsenal of offensive weapons has been impacted by injuries. Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Richie James are among the receivers who have or are expected to miss time. Second-year wideout Jalen Hurd will miss his second consecutive season.

Even Kittle and fullback Kyle Juszczyk are banged up.

Despite the injuries among Garoppolo's targets, one NFC executive pointed to the interior of the 49ers offensive line as the team's biggest weakness. Laken Tomlinson is solid, but the team is banged up at center, and there is still a competition for the other guard spot.

"That said, if anyone can scheme around that, (Kyle) Shanahan can," the exec said.

As for team strengths, one NFL coordinator believes the 49ers trio of linebackers — Fred Warner, Kwon Alexander, and Dre Greenlaw — can be dominant, calling Warner a top-10 talent.

"I know their defensive line is great, but Warner sets a tone for them," said the coordinator. "Really good against the pass. I like that linebacker corps."

Greenlaw is entering his second NFL season while Alexander is a veteran defender. Warner, a rising NFL star, is headed into his third year as a pro. He led the team last season with 118 tackles while adding three sacks, an interception, a score, nine passes defensed, and three forced fumbles.

"He's an incredible linebacker," Kittle said of Warner last week. "He was, in my opinion, a Pro Bowl linebacker last year, and I think he's going to be better this year. Just being able to play against him every day makes me a better tight end. It's just really fun to have someone like that on your team."

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