San Francisco, CA

San Francisco 49ers and LB Fred Warner agree to five-year extension

Dustin Cox

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San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred WarnerAlexanderJonesi/commons.wikimedia

The San Francisco 49ers have locked up one of their homegrown stars and one of the best linebackers in the league. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the 49ers and All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner have agreed to a five-year, $95 million contract extension, tying him down with San Francisco through the 2026 season and making him the currently highest-paid player at his position, eclipsing Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks.

The 49ers selected the BYU linebacker with the No. 70 overall pick in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Warner quickly became of the best young off-ball linebackers in the NFL, with many considering him to be the best following the 2020 season. Over his three seasons in the league, Warner has played in and started 48 games, totaling 367 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, four sacks, 14 quarterback hits, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, three interceptions, 21 passes defended, and one defensive touchdown. He finished the 2020 season as PFF's highest-rated linebacker with a grade of 88.6. Warner has earned PFF coverage grades of over 90.0 for both the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Earlier this offseason during OTAs, San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke during a press conference and shared his feelings regarding the team's star linebacker.

"Fred's a guy that I plan on being here forever and who has earned that."

Warner is the prototypical modern off-ball linebacker in a progressively pass-happy NFL. Finding a linebacker who can not only avoid being a liability in pass coverage is hard enough to do, so having one who is genuinely good in pass coverage is extremely valuable. Warner was a vital piece to the vaunted 2019 defense for the 49ers which helped take the team to the Super Bowl. He remained a key cog on defense last season when several other notable players went down with injuries, including defensive end Nick Bosa and cornerback Richard Sherman.

With his best years surely remaining ahead, the 24-year-old All-Pro linebacker will remain a staple for years to come in the red and gold. Warner's massive payday will also pave the way for other young stars at his position to receive similar deals, including Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts, Roquan Smith of the Chicago Bears, Tremaine Edmunds of the Buffalo Bills, and Devin White of Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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