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49ers’ Fred Warner talks potential Garoppolo-Lance competition, contract situation

May 25, 2021 at 3:31 PM

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At some point, there will probably be a quarterback competition between Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance. Garoppolo has been the team's starter since shortly after a mid-season trade to acquire him in 2017. San Francisco selected Lance at No. 3 overall in April, signaling that Garoppolo's days as the starter may be numbered.

While Lance is clearly the future, Garoppolo is the present. The plan is to have Garoppolo start this season, allowing the rookie to sit and learn. If Lance proves to be ahead of schedule and a battle ensues between the two quarterbacks, don't expect the 49ers locker room to become divided. While close with one another, the players understand the situation and the business side of the sport.

"I don't think it's going to be awkward at all," linebacker Fred Warner told reporters on Tuesday when asked about a potential Garoppolo-Lance competition. "Everyone understands that everybody's competing for a spot. There's competition. This is our job. We're professionals. We come to work. I think this is one of the most tight-knit groups of players amongst all teams in this league, so I'm not worried about that one bit."

Of course, Warner was asked about his contract situation. The linebacker is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is due a long-term extension. On Tuesday, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that he expects Warner to be with the 49ers for a long time.

"I just see [the extension] kind of as a matter of time," Shanahan said. "I mean, I know he's not going into his free-agent year or anything like that, so that's why it's not always on my mind. But Fred's a guy that I plan on being here forever, and who has earned that. And I'd be surprised if that doesn't start sooner than later."

Shanahan and his All-Pro linebacker appear to be in sync with the situation.

"Obviously, I want to be a Niner for life, too, right?" Warner told reporters. "I know all that stuff will work itself out in due time, and I'm just focused on being the best player I can for this team. That's why I'm here. I'm working with my guys, and we have huge aspirations and goals for this season. I'm really excited about this season that we're going to have."

Warner never considered sitting out offseason workouts or practices until he received a new deal. There is always a chance that he could get hurt, losing some leverage in any potential negotiations. However, that hasn't been enough to keep the linebacker away. He knows how important these practices are in achieving the team's goals.

"I can get hurt walking across the street," Warner said. "You can get hurt all types of ways. But it never crossed my mind to miss this OTA. I know this is a big part of not only my growth, but the team as a whole. Getting out here, working together, seeing things, playing ball, it just sets up that foundation that you want to then work into the season and be firing like you want to. So, I never hesitated on that one."

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