Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Fred Warner ranks No. 3 among’s best off-ball linebackers

Jul 25, 2021 at 9:20 AM--

NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks recently ranked his top five off-ball linebackers in the league, and San Francisco 49ers fans may be disappointed to learn that the team's star defender, Fred Warner, was not at the top of the list. He wasn't at No. 2 either.

Warner, who signed a five-year, $95 million contract extension last week, came in at No. 3, behind Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks and Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts.

Maybe that will be further motivation for the 24-year-old linebacker, who has many years in front of him.

"The All-Pro has become one of the league's most disruptive players as an off-ball playmaker," wrote Brooks. "Warner has tallied at least 118 tackles in each of his three seasons, including a 2020 campaign in which he registered 125 stops with five tackles for loss, one sack and two interceptions. As a crafty ballhawk with outstanding instincts and awareness, the 49ers' designated disruptor is quickly challenging his fellow all-stars for the top spot on the list."

Warner has led the 49ers in tackles during each of his three NFL seasons. He has racked up 367 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 14 quarterback hits, three interceptions, a touchdown, four sacks, 21 passes defensed, and five forced fumbles over his brief career so far, earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors this past season. And he did all of that while starting every game over those three seasons.

So why is Warner third on the list?

"The six-time All-Pro (Wagner) continues to fend off challengers as the undisputed champ at the position," explained Brooks while defending the Seahawks linebacker's spot at the top of his list. "Wagner is a stat stuffer with a strong nose for the ball and a knack for playmaking. ... As the ultimate disruptor in the middle of the field, Wagner is the prototypical off-ball linebacker that every defensive coordinator covets between the tackles."

Warner is currently the highest-paid linebacker. However, that could change soon. Leonard is the next one in line for a massive contract. The Colts star has produced ridiculous statistics on his way to two Pro Bowl selections and is a two-time first-team All-Pro.

"The ultra-athletic playmaker is a tackling machine with sideline-to-sideline range," Brooks wrote of Leonard. "The two-time All-Pro is a destructive force whose ability to produce highlight plays is a game-changer for the Colts -- and the reason why he's expected to cash in soon."

What do you think of the order of Brooks' ranking? Leave a comment below.

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