Fred Warner enters new NFL chapter as a father, talks Sorensen hire

Apr 24, 2024, 2:00 PM | Updated: 2:31 pm

Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after defeating the Dallas Cowboys 19-12 in t...

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 22: Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after defeating the Dallas Cowboys 19-12 in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Levi's Stadium on January 22, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The 2024 offseason has brought on change for the 49ers, none more than the captain of the defense, Fred Warner.

The San Francisco 49ers’ All-Pro linebacker welcomed his first child into the world this offseason. That has led to a real adjustment period for the player, having bigger responsibilities than just football now on the table. But for Warner, he wouldn’t have it any other way, now playing with more motivation entering Year 7 in the NFL.

“Family’s number one for me, and then the football stuff comes second,” Fred Warner explained Monday. “That doesn’t mean that football is not as important to me. But yeah, I had to obviously get over that [Super Bowl] loss pretty quick because I had something really important coming up and you know, I think that they both play hand-in-hand as well. I think now I have even more to play for in this game. I already had a lot of motivation, a lot of inner drive, but to look at my son everyday and know that I’m playing for something else as well.”

That motivation has fueled him to attack the 2024 offseason, regularly seen at Levi’s Stadium for workouts and treatment.

Additionally, the defensive captain has been tasked with working with a new defensive coordinator Nick Sorensen. After Steve Wilks didn’t pan out, Sorensen was elevated from a position coach to coordinator within the organization. The in-house hire is supposed to alleviate concerns about fit for next season, something Warner is well aware of and excited about.

“I love Nick, I love what he brings to the table. And I think he’s always been a really smart and invaluable asset to what we do on defense ever since he came on the team,” Warner stated. “You know, he worked a lot with the linebackers early on, and kind of has bounced around with some of the defensive backs, and now he has an opportunity to lead and I have full confidence in him. I think the way that his mind works is exactly what you want. We’re really excited to work with him.”

While SF and coach Kyle Shanahan have a certain look for the defense, they haven’t been shy about bringing in new voices to add to the blueprint.

Former Chargers coach Brandon Staley signed on as an associate coach to implement new ideas on defense. The difference from last season to now is the role, giving Sorenson the final say rather than an outside voice on the play calls.

Nevertheless, Fred Warner is excited by the acquisition, already working with Staley for next season.

“Yeah, he’s been around,” Warner said. “I love what he’s been able to bring our defense and implementing different things, his mind the way that he works. He’s been around for a long time. I’m excited to have him as well.”

The upcoming 2024 season marks a turning point for the 49ers’ roster as a whole, especially on defense.

San Francisco lost a plethora of quality depth pieces to the rotation, including the harsh reality of cutting former captain Arik Armstead to save money long-term. Those losses are only amplified by Dre Greenlaw’s injury, who underwent Achilles surgery this offseason.

His return to the 49ers will occur next season, but the exact date is still unknown. Starting the season on the PUP list is very much in play. Fred Warner is aware of the changes to his unit, looking to keep everyone focused on the task ahead, including his partner in the middle of the field.

“I see him every day. You know that boot on his foot is getting smaller and smaller, day by day,” Warner shared. “He’s as optimistic as you can be, right? That’s such a devastating injury, especially that time of the year, the last game of the season.

“Just checking in with him often. He’s had the best mindset about it and continuing to stay optimistic, and knowing that he’ll be back better than ever.”

Key offseason dates for the San Francisco 49ers

  • April 25-27 – 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit
  • May 20-21, May 23, May 28-29, May 31–OTAs
  • June 4-6 Mandatory Minicamp

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