What Warner told 49ers' defense to spark halftime turnaround vs. Lions

What Warner told 49ers' defense to spark halftime turnaround vs. Lions originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SANTA CLARA — There were tears of joy and an overwhelming feeling of relief on the Levi's Stadium field after the 49ers' 34-31 win over the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday night.

The 49ers' defense did enough in the second half to help lock down a trip to Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII, but defensive end Nick Bosa shared that it wasn’t without a significant gut check in the first half.

“It was embarrassing,” Bosa said after the win. “Kind of felt helpless. And we didn’t want to go down as failures. We know our defense is way too good to play like that. This defense is as talented as it gets.”

All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner spoke to the defense in the locker room at halftime, asking each player how they wanted people to remember them, this game and the 2023 NFL season.

“I told the team that there was no more time for pep talks,” Warner told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Offense had the ball up first. They had to go score. Defensively, we had to get a stop, and if we didn’t, we’re not going to Vegas.”

Bosa believes the adversity San Francisco went through in its two playoff wins this postseason is a perfect learning experience in preparation for the Super Bowl. Allowing the 49ers' offense to put up 27 unanswered points in the second half against the Lions is something the defense now knows it can do.

"The way we did it the past two weeks,” Bosa said. “I think there was a stat with Kyle [Shanahan] not going back after being down, and I think it’s a testament to our group that we are able to battle back, and you got to do stuff like that to have a special season.”

Now the 49ers have their sights set on the biggest game of the year that will be a rematch of Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs. While the two teams' rosters have changed since the 2019 season, many of the key players still remain, including coach Andy Reid, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce.

“It’s perfect,” Bosa said. “It’s perfect and they are as great as an organization, coach, quarterback as there is. And they were down, not looking great this year, either, and now they are playing their best ball now. So it’s going to be a big challenge.”

Warner, full of smiles as the red and gold confetti was falling all around him, was content for the moment, but not satisfied.

“You know what, I’m not even really that happy right now,” Warner said. “I want to get one more, that’s it.”

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast