Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

‘I could be better’: 49ers LB Fred Warner offers honest self-evaluation

Nov 17, 2021 at 1:49 PM--

Fred Warner was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded linebacker in 2020 when the San Francisco 49ers star defender earned a career-high overall grade of 88.6. The performance earned Warner a big-time contract extension worth up to $95 million.

Warner's Pro Football Focus grade has dropped to 70.2 this season, making him the NFL's eighth-highest graded linebacker among those with over 300 snaps. The linebacker admits that he is in a slump, but it's not because of a lack of effort.

Warner spoke with reporters before today's practice and was asked to offer a self-assessment.

"I could give a very detailed answer," Warner responded. "I could go on and on about that. I think the short answer is: I could be better. And I always look back to 'are you getting better or getting worse?' Last year, I was playing at a high level, obviously — All-Pro, Pro Bowl. Am I doing that right this second? I wouldn't say so.

"I'd say we have eight games left that I can prove that, that I can be a better player for this team, for myself. So yeah, I'm looking forward to just putting my head down and grinding these last eight games."

Monday night's game against the Rams was the fourth time Warner graded lower than 60.0 in a game this season. By comparison, he graded lower than 60.0 just three times all of last season. Of course, Pro Football Focus grades can be subjective and shouldn't be taken as gospel, but it paints the picture of Warner's struggles.

The linebacker admits that he can't pinpoint the reason for his drop in play this season.

"It's one of the most frustrating things in the world because you think that you're putting in more work, you're being more detailed in what you do, and for some reason, the results just don't show up for you," Warner continued. "That's just what it's been. Not that I'm not working. I'm putting that work out there. I'm doing what I think I need to be doing.

"It comes together. I know it's going to come together. I feel like I still continue to play my style and put good things on tape. I've got to dial in on the details, and shoot, when it doubt, you've just got to go harder, work harder."

After signing his massive deal, the linebacker admits that he felt some pressure to prove his worth early in the season.

"It probably hindered me a little bit, but I'm past it," Warner said. "I'm looking to just get better as a player. That's it."

Warner acknowledges that his current slump is "for sure" one of the biggest challenges of his career.

"At the same time, I always look at how blessed I am to play this game," he said. "Every time I'm able to walk off that field after every game, that's a blessing in itself. So, just having the ability to go out and practice and get better every week, that's something that I look forward to every single day. So, like I said, today is another one of those opportunities."

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