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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Fred Warner talks supporting Dre Greenlaw, early impression of Ricky Pearsall, and a standout 49ers linebacker

Jun 5, 2024 at 3:11 PM

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San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner was visibly heartbroken when his teammate and friend, Dre Greenlaw, left Super Bowl LVIII with a torn Achilles. Greenlaw's energy is crucial to the 49ers' defense, and his absence in the second half likely contributed to their overtime defeat.

Greenlaw underwent successful surgery on February 15 and has since embarked on a long road to recovery. While he hopes to rejoin his teammates for Week 1 of the upcoming season, it's more realistic that he will start the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

When asked how he is supporting Greenlaw in his recovery, Warner responded, "Just being there for him, really. Kind of checking in with him every day. He's around. He's rehabbing hard. He's in the meetings with us still. Just kind of checking in with him, seeing how he's doing, and making sure he still is involved because I know it gets lonely.

"When you're rehabbing a serious injury like that, you're not as involved with the team, but, I mean, he's very much, obviously, still a huge part of what we do. Just obviously gotta get healthy."

Pearsall first impressions

Warner didn't know much about Ricky Pearsall when the 49ers used the No. 31 overall pick to acquire the wide receiver. Everything he knows about the rookie has been from watching him on the practice field. So far, the star linebacker is impressed.

However, Warner was careful with his praise, acknowledging that it's difficult to gauge a player's skill set before contact is allowed in practices.

"I think he's carried himself really well," Warner said. "I mean, there's a reason why he was drafted in the first round. Usually you get drafted that high because you've got a lot of ability and you're built of the right stuff. I didn't know what the rankings was of the receivers coming out or anything. I give all the rookies a chance to prove themselves, and you're not really going to prove much in OTAs when you're in shorts and t-shirts.

"But I really like what I've seen in terms of just how he's operated around the building, going up to guys and shaking their hand, looking them in the eye. 'Hey, man, I'm Ricky. Nice to meet you.' You know, little stuff like that goes a long way, but obviously, the stuff on the field is going to continue to progress.

"He can obviously run fast, he can run really good routes, can catch the ball well. So we'll see what happens when we throw the pads on."

Standout youngster

There are several young players in the linebacker room now. With Greenlaw still working his way back and veterans like Warner watching from the sidelines during this week's mandatory minicamp, it's been an opportunity for younger players to earn valuable practice reps.

When asked if any of them stood out to the savvy veteran linebacker, one name quickly popped into Warner's head—Dee Winters.

"I think Dee's probably had the best OTAs out of anybody on the team," Warner shared. "I feel like he's come along since last year. I remember he came in as a rookie, was struggling to learn the plays, and trying to get in shape, and all those little things that you got to learn as a professional."

Winters is entering his second NFL season. The 49ers selected him in the sixth round of last year's draft. While he appeared in 15 games, Winters played only 60 defensive snaps, primarily contributing on special teams.

Warner continued, "And [he] has come in this year and has just been on it, making plays left and right. He came in great shape this OTAs, and so he's set himself up to have a great training camp. He's going to train hard this summer and have a chance."

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