Fred Warner expects to blitz more under new 49ers DC DeMeco Ryans

Fred Warner became the NFL's highest-paid inside linebacker but believes he can continue to improve as the San Francisco 49ers defense evolves.

With the Niners moving from Robert Saleh to DeMeco Ryans as its new defensive coordinator, little has been discussed nationally regarding how that change will be incorporated. The assumption has been that Ryans won't change much on a well-oiled operation. Assumptions are usually faulty.

Every new coordinator brings his preferred methods and flavors to the game planning and how they call games. Ryans will be no different. The former Pro Bowl linebacker's defense is expected to be more aggressive and attacking than Saleh's.

For Warner, the change in coordinators should mean more opportunities to rush the passer.

"That is for sure a point of emphasis going into this season, the blitzing," Warner said Thursday after inking his massive new contract, per NBC Sports Bay Area. "I know I'll have more opportunities in the pass-rushing game and forcing fumbles."

Warner is a stud in coverage, the top linebacker in space, and should be considered one of the better coverage players in any position. He also cleans up everything around him, gobbling up 115-plus tackles in each of his first three seasons.

Thus far, however, Warner hasn't been asked to rush the passer much. The 24-year-old has just four total sacks in 48 games played. That's not to suggest he can't rush the passer. In just 93 pass-rush snaps last season, he compiled 13 QB pressures. The 14 percent QB pressure rate ranks 12th among all defenders with at least 90 pass-rush snaps, per Next Gen Stats.

Being aggressive in Ryans' new defense isn't just about getting more chances to blitz, it's also attacking the ball and forcing more turnovers. Warner, who has five forced fumbles with three fumble recoveries in his career, said he's working on stripping the ball more when he makes tackles.

"That is something I take great pride in," Warner said. "(It's) something I kind of started to develop after my first year and have continued to work on.

"(I try) to implement different drills and stuff to just to keep it on my mind and keep that muscle memory when I'm out there but still maintaining proper tackling technique."

NFL teams don't make a habit of paying players for past performance. Rather the money is a representation of what they can accomplish in future years. Warner is now the NFL's top-paid inside linebacker. As such, the expectations for his game are through the roof. Adding extra dimensions, like pass-rush opportunities, will only heighten his impact on the 49ers' defense.

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