Fred Warner
Fred Warner has received a massive contract extension, making him the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL. (Jennifer Stewart/Associated Press)

Fred Warner just signed a well-deserved contract extension. Adam Schefter reported the news early Wednesday morning that the 49ers linebacker will be receiving $19 million over 5 seasons with $40.5 million guaranteed. This massive deal now makes Warner the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL. After accruing 125 tackles and two interceptions this past season, Warner is the face of the Niners’ defense. San Francisco is looking to keep their core players around after losing defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to the New York Jets this offseason.

Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead highlight the fearsome defensive line, but Warner is an even more integral part of their defense. Not only has he played 16 games in all three years he has been in the league, but he has shown tremendous growth and become a sideline to sideline player in both the run and pass game.

If the 49ers’ defense can stay healthy throughout the year (which has been a significant issue in previous seasons), they can boast one of the top units in the NFL. Retaining cornerback Jason Verrett in free agency was a great move by their front office to keep some playmakers in the secondary. Drafting Trey Lance and Brandon Aiyuk in the first rounds of the 2020 and 2019 NFL Drafts respectively shows San Francisco’s need to bolster their offense. If the defense can stay healthy and Lance progresses quicker than expected, do not be surprised to see the Niners make another run to the Super Bowl.

Another way to look at this is how this sets the market for top-tier linebackers. Darius Leonard is reportedly next in line to receive a massive extension from the Indianapolis Colts. With linebacker contracts going up, how will teams adapt with limited cap space?

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