Fred Warner supports Jimmy Garoppolo, previews Justin Fields matchup

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All eyes are under center in Santa Clara as the 49ers try to navigate the 2021 season and their quarterback situation at the same time.

While many are clamoring for the end of the Jimmy Garoppolo era, 49ers linebacker Fred Warner joined 95.7 The Game’s “Damon & Ratto” Wednesday afternoon to voice his support for Jimmy G. Warner said the team’s current struggles aren’t just a result of quarterback play. Listen to the full interview below:

“We’re not going to put blame on anybody, but it for sure doesn’t fall on the quarterback,” Warner said. “It is a team effort in everything that we do. I’m always going to ride behind Jimmy. I’ll ride behind whoever we’re rolling with, but I’m always going to ride behind Jimmy. I have since the day I stepped foot on this team.

“He’s handled himself so well throughout the years. He’s always been criticized but it doesn’t matter to him. He doesn’t listen to the noise. He’s always just going to put his head down and work.”

On Monday, coach Kyle Shanahan stemmed any quarterback controversy before it could begin, declaring Garoppolo his starter for Sunday’s road game against the Chicago Bears. Rookie quarterback Trey Lance returned to practice Wednesday, albeit as a limited participant, for the first time since injuring his knee in Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals.

Warner is probably more concerned about another rookie quarterback, though. First-round pick Justin Fields will get his sixth career start behind a beleaguered offensive line that has allowed him to get sacked at a higher rate than any other signal-caller in the league. Still, Warner is weary of the problems that a dual-threat quarterback like Fields presents.

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“There’s some dynamic players out there,” Warner said. “It’s about being relentless and being exact in your assignment and your execution. I feel like we face another tough task this week with Justin. He’s a 4.3 (second 40-yard dash) guy. You see it on the tape, he can run away from you in a hurry. We gotta make sure everybody’s working together.”

The 49ers defense caught some flack last week after the secondary committed some costly penalties that helped set up touchdowns for the Indianapolis Colts. Warner, a respected team captain, said the whole unit needs to step it up. He also thinks the team isn’t far away from having an top-notch defense like the 2019 edition.

“That 2019 defense was a really good defense,” Warner said. “I would say last year, we played good ball as well. This year, we’re so close. I don’t wanna compare the years in the past. I think we’re right there, for being one of the top in the league. Just a few things we gotta obviously clean up and be better at. We have everyone we would need to be an elite defense in this league.”