Fred Warner Gets Paid

Fred Warner
Fred Warner
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

"[Fred] Warner, a third-round pick in 2018, is entering the final year of his rookie deal and will probably be described as the league’s highest-paid linebacker in Football Outsiders Almanac 2022."

That's what we wrote about Fred Warner in Football Outsiders Almanac 2021, but Warner didn't need to wait till next year. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Warner has agreed to a five-year, $95 million extension, including $40.5 million guaranteed, with the San Francisco 49ers. Warner ranked in the top 12 among linebackers in both of our pass coverage statistics last season. The All-Pro has started all 48 games in his first three NFL seasons.

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10 comments, Last at 23 Jul 2021, 9:53am

3 I mean... maybe? Can't…

I mean... maybe? Can't exactly blame them for Foster only lasting as long as he did but the only decent linebackers they've had since they switched to a 4-3 (well, 4-2-5, let's be serious) are Warner and Foster, and, well, he did only last 2 years.  And it seems weird to lump in the 3-4 guys with the more recent ones.

6 Why is it weird to lump them…

Why is it weird to lump them together? Most teams play nickel as their base 

Yes, but who you pull off for nickel changes. The 49ers in '12 had 4 linebackers on the field for 90+% of their snaps. Since 2017 the only one to break 90% is Warner. Just very different positions.

8 Just to be clear, are you…

Just to be clear, are you saying that 90 percent of the snaps the 49ers defense played, they had 4 those 4 lbs on the field?

Yeah. They were a 3-4, and when they ran nickel they were in a more traditional 4-2-5 front - no nose tackle, OLBs drop down - which is common with a 3-4. The guys with 90%+ of the snaps were the 4 LBs + Smith/McDonald (or the backup DE when Smith got injured) + 2 of the CBs, and then the nickel CB + the NT had the 70/30 split.

That's why I said it feels weird grouping them.

9 To be clear, I was referring…

To be clear, I was referring to Bowman and Willis and not Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks. To be even more clear, while nominally called "linebackers", 3-4 olbs really are just standing defensive ends and so functionally(although not exactly), they fall into the edge rusher category.

As an aside, people want to lump 3-4 ends with 4-3 d tackles but this less of an apples to apples as the 3-4 OLB is to the 4-3 DE. I think 3-4 DE actually have a more hybrid sense to their game between 4-3 DT and 4-3 DE. All that to say, the 4-3 DT has the hardest pure pass rushing job IMO and thats what reinforces Donald as the destroyer of worlds. 

10 I'm not super fond of the "3…

I'm not super fond of the "3-4 is really 5-2 and the OLBs are really DEs" analogy. 3-4 OLBs have far higher passes defensed than a 4-3 DE, for instance, and body-type wise, especially in nickel the 3-4 ILBs have a harder job if the opponent rushes.

All that to say, the 4-3 DT has the hardest pure pass rushing job IMO and thats what reinforces Donald as the destroyer of worlds. 

Yeah, that's why I said it's weird to lump them, because the flipside of this is that the typical 4-3 DT has the easiest run support responsibility. He's always there (unlike the 3-4 NT, who's mostly not) and body-wise he's bigger than either the 4-3 or 3-4 DEs. Which puts more responsibility on the 3-4 ILBs in nickel formations. So I'm more impressed by Bowman and Willis, for instance, than Warner.

2 West Coast version?

Willis, Bowman, Borland, and now Warner.  They are like the Steelers of the west. 

5 Hm interesting

49ers have now made two generally low value positions into the highest paid in LB and TE. Could theoretically be high value if they're monsters in the pass game. IDK how stable those metrics are at these positions but it certainly is nice that they've shown to be adept at them unlike some other paydays. 

Actually set up kinda weird with a buyback. Could go either way for good/bad.