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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

‘We needed our playmakers to make plays’: Fred Warner shares details of 49ers’ players-only meeting

Nov 18, 2021 at 8:18 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers defense knew it had to step up after an embarrassing performance in Week 9 against an injury-depleted Arizona Cardinals team. No one was giving them a chance against a potent Los Angeles Rams offense, but the entire team stepped up, and the 49ers routed their division rival 31-10.

Linebacker Fred Warner, defensive lineman Arik Armstead, and safety Jimmie Ward, the 49ers' team captains on defense, met the night before the primetime matchup to discuss what needed to change. Later, they addressed the rest of the defense.

"Sunday night before the Monday game, [defensive coordinator] DeMeco [Ryans] had asked for us three captains on the defense, me, Jimmie, and Arik, to just speak to the defense," Warner told NBC Sports Bay Area. "And I asked him, 'Well, do you mind if the coaches were to step out while we spoke to them.' Of course, him, being a player himself back in the day, he understands and had the players just kind of talk amongst one another.

"And I thought it was a great meeting. I thought we left that meeting all on the same page of what we wanted to accomplish and get done for that game."

This week, Ward shared his thoughts on the players-only meeting.

"[W]e just gave the players, the younger players, and just everybody else, just our thoughts heading into the game and heading into the season, where we think we're at right now," Ward said on KNBR. "Basically, what we said is, 'We've just got to continue to grind, just take one game at a time, one day at a time. And if we all work together, then I think we can come away with some wins.'"

The meeting must have worked. Not only was the 49ers' performance dominant on both sides of the football, but the team appeared to find its identity, and potentially, saved its season.

Warner continued, "I just wanted to let them know that I had asked for the coaches to leave because I told them that tomorrow night, all these guys were going to be on the field. This was going to be the group that's going to help win this game. The coaches obviously do their job in coaching, but players make plays at the end of the day, and that's what wins games."

Ward ended up having a career game. He recorded two interceptions, just the third and fourth of his career, and his first since 2016. One of the two was a tone-setting pick-six.

"So we needed our playmakers to make plays," Warner added. "I talked to them about how we needed to take the rock if we wanted to win the game. My guy, Jimmie, did that two times."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Warner below.

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