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Why Texans' Schultz believes Warner is NFL's best linebacker

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Throughout the past few seasons, the 49ers have become known for their hard-nosed defense, particularly at the middle linebacker position.

In speaking to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Laura Britt on Thursday at Super Bowl LVIII Radio Row in Las Vegas, Houston Texans tight end Dalton Schultz had plenty of praise for the 49ers' defense, especially middle linebacker Fred Warner.

When asked what is challenging about facing off against Warner and fellow linebacker Dre Greenlaw, Schultz was quick to explain what makes Warner so good.

“Fred Warner, he's the best Mike linebacker in the game,” Schultz said. “Like he's so good, he can make every play. He's such a challenge, he's a good tackler, he's great in coverage and he's asked to do a lot in the scheme.

“Seeing what that scheme is and practicing against that scheme every day, knowing how much the mike has to do and then watching Fred go out and just, like, execute it to the highest level. That's why I think he's the best.

“I think that matchup, with Greenlaw and Fred, they've got two of the best backers in the league and, it puts a lot of pressure on the offense to execute.”

Schultz spent his first five NFL seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, so he faced off against the 49ers a handful of times during that span, especially in the playoffs where San Francisco won in the 2021 wild-card round and 2022 in the divisional playoff round vs. Dallas.

The middle linebacker, known as the “Mike,” is the quarterback of the defense, with their central position on the field allowing them to call defensive plays and shifts.

Since being selected by the 49ers in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Warner has developed into one of the best linebackers in the league, earning three Pro Bowl nods and three All-Pro honors in his career.

Warner and the rest of the 49ers' defense will look to slow down quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs offense, in Super Bowl LVIII.

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