49ers’ Fred Warner goes from All-Pro to all-paid-up with contract extension
JFred Warner absolutely should pan out as the 49ers’ latest highly paid linebacker. Which would be a welcome change.
Malcolm Smith, Reuben Foster and Kwon Alexander sure didn’t, not after this current regime anted up for them in 2017, ʼ18 and ʼ19, respectively.
Warner’s first three seasons earned him not only a raise but a market-setting salary among linebackers. He’s agreed to a five-year, $95 million contract extension with $40.5 million guaranteed, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo first reported.
Warner and all 49ers players are slated to report for training camp on Tuesday. The 49ers and Warner’s agent have yet to publicly confirm the deal.
The 49ers did announce they’ve signed running back Trey Sermon (third-round draft pick) and claimed off waivers former Los Angeles Rams return specialist Nsimba Webster (Deer Valley High, Antioch).
Warner is the prototype of a modern-day linebacker, as opposed to the old-school version known for punishing hits when looser rules allowed them.
He’s got range, he’s instinctive, he’s intelligent, he’s a sure tackler and he’s an organically grown captain. He’s channeling 49ers predecessors Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman more so than the aforementioned crop of washouts this current 49ers brass overpaid.
Warner arrived in 2018 as a third-round draft pick — as well as shrewd insurance for Foster, who proved unreliable on and off the field.
“All-Pro Fred” became a grassroots nickname bestowed upon him by teammates until it became a realized honor last season, when injuries crippled defenders (and offensive stars) all around Warner.
A potential new nickname: Big Bread Fred, as tweeted by former 49ers teammate Trent Taylor in congratulating Warner.
So where does he go from here? He’s now being paid like a Pro Bowler, and the BYU product is an exemplary pro, on and off the field.
“Overall, I want to separate myself, being more of a game-changer, being able to attack the football, work on my tackling in the box, getting my feet in the ground and working on my burst in and out of breaks,” Warner answered in May on where he must improve. “Little details are what really matter now.”
Critical this season is his connection to DeMeco Ryans, who ascends to the defensive coordinator role after three years as the linebackers coach.
The 49ers, despite a diminished salary cap, have managed to fiscally massage their roster to the tune of signing not only Warner ahead of camp but excelling in free agency, where they re-signed left tackle Trent Williams, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and defensive backs Jason Verrett, K’Waun Williams, Emmanuel Moseley and Jaquiski Tartt.
Warner’s $19 million annual average is the most among NFL linebackers, eclipsing the Seattle Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner’s $18 million per year mark.