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George Kittle explains how Fred Warner sets the standard for the 49ers

Feb 9, 2024 at 1:42 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers' defense faced criticism for some lack-of-effort moments in their recent playoff games, an issue the team has acknowledged and addressed.

Last week, when questioned about the matter, general manager John Lynch affirmed, "Effort's a non-negotiable. I mean, that's one of our core values, and I believe that in my heart of hearts. ... It starts with effort, that being a non-negotiable."

With a complete team effort needed on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, Lynch declared, "It's been addressed, and I'd be real surprised if I saw [it during the Super Bowl]."

The players understand they can't afford to take a single play off if the 49ers hope to lift the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night.

"We know we have to do better," defensive end Chase Young said this week. "We have to do more. Can't have that. I can't have that. And everybody on the team knows that we can't have that. So, we're going to do our best to make sure it never happens again."

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Tight end George Kittle, addressing reporters on Thursday, pinpointed one defensive teammate who consistently gives 100 percent on the football field, setting an example for everyone on the roster—linebacker Fred Warner.

"What makes Fred very talented is he's incredibly consistent," Kittle shared. "He does a very good job of not being fake. He's consistent every single day. And when you are an emotional leader, and you give pregame speeches, you talk to the team a lot, you have to be consistent. You can't just pull that out on game day. You have to talk to the team throughout the week. You have to talk to the team throughout the year. You have to be consistent with that.

"I think Fred does a really good job about that. He talks to the team, tries his best to motivate them. But another thing, when he goes out there and says, 'I want you to play your best ball for 60 minutes,' he goes out there and does it. There's not a play that you're going to look at Fred and be like, 'Hey, Fred, why weren't you running right? Where's the effort?' He has zero no-effort plays. He's always 100 miles an hour."

That motivates players like Kittle to also play to that standard. Head coach Kyle Shanahan stated that he doesn't believe his team has played its A-game yet this season, saying, "Those two games in the playoffs definitely weren't our best all around in all three phases."

The coach hopes that the A-game performance comes on Sunday.

Still speaking of Warner's impact on the 49ers, Kittle added, "And when you set that standard for yourself, it forces the guys around you to live up to that standard. Otherwise, you will get called out."
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