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What Fred Warner appreciates most about 49ers' Steve Wilks

What Fred Warner appreciates most about 49ers' Steve Wilks originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The 49ers’ defense has been a top-five unit in the NFL for the past four seasons. It's a unit that turned two defensive coordinators into NFL head coaches in Robert Saleh with the New York Jets and DeMeco Ryans with the Houston Texans.

The newest defensive coordinator Steve Wilks plans to pick up right where they left off. And he has the full support of linebacker Fred Warner, the heartbeat of the 49ers' defense who played for both Saleh and Ryans.

“He’s amazing. He’s been great since Day 1,” Warner said Monday to NFL Network’s Steve Mariucci and Colleen Wolfe at training camp. “Guys talk about a coach being humbled. … He’s obviously used to running a different type of system.

“He came in here and said, ‘You guys do what you do so well, I want to learn what you guys do.’ He learned it, and we’re continuing to do what we do because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Wilks, who spent last season as the Carolina Panthers' defensive pass game coordinator and secondary coach, quickly earned the trust of the NFL's top defense. The locker room accepted him right away, and cornerback Deommodore Lenoir even gave him a flashy new nickname in June -- "the Godfather of DBs."

Warner considers Wilks a players' coach. But how does he define that label?

"A guy who’s been in it so long, he understands the grind of something like a training camp," Warner said on NFL Network. "He understands that there’s lives outside of football. He cares about the human being as much as he does about the player. As a player, that means a lot because then you’re willing to go out there and lay it all on the line for your coach. He genuinely has that love and care for his players."

The admiration goes both ways.

"I probably have never been around a group like this on defense, particularly up front, the talent level that we have," Wilks said at training camp last month.

The 49ers' defense is expected to do big things under Wilks' leadership. If all goes according to plan, he'll start hearing his name in head-coaching rumors before too long.

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