Charvarius Ward

Warner explains great story behind Ward's ‘AP' nickname

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Charvarius Ward's leap this season has been a joy to watch for his 49ers teammates, especially star linebacker Fred Warner. 

While the veteran cornerback is known as "Mooney" in the 49ers' locker room, Warner detailed the incredible reasoning behind another one of his nicknames, "AP," which Warner created for him over the summer.

"It's been so special to watch because being there since Day 1 of him getting here and watching the progression of him as a player, the work he puts in, his confidence growing more and more each day," Warner said Tuesday on KNBR's "Murph & Markus" show. "Back in 2019-2020 when I was starting to get a little bit of praise, I remember George Kittle started the name 'Pro Bowl Fred' for me when I was a second-year player, and kind of started the buzz around me playing well. And then soon after that, it was 'All-Pro Fred.'

"Those things matter in terms of a player's confidence and believing in themselves because at the end of the day, Mooney has had this ability, this talent to do the things that he's doing. He's had it all along -- it's just the level of confidence that he's playing at now. Knowing it and believing it. Going out there every Sunday and making plays, huge plays for our defense, it was always there. But just to be able to help build his confidence up, I'm so happy for him. He fully deserves to be an All-Pro this year. I'm sure he'll be a Pro Bowler as well."

Ward's breakout campaign came at a fitting time after San Francisco's corners were seen as a weakness heading into the 2023 NFL season.

The doubters -- and Warner's nickname -- certainly drove Ward to the best showing of his career thus far. Ward, who leads the league with 23 pass breakups, vowed to start turning his big defensive plays into interceptions.

That certainly was the case Sunday when Ward jumped in front of Washington Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin and intercepted the ball, racking up his third pick in three games. The undrafted free agent now has recorded a career-high five takeaways on the season.

“It was huge,” reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa said after the 49ers' 27-10 win. “Super happy for him. Hopefully, that solidified him as an All-Pro. A good call by [defensive coordinator] Steve [Wilks] with the pressure. Me and [Javon] Hargrave got there.”

Whether you point the finger at the haters, Warner's motivational moniker or Ward's happiness at home for his increased on-field production this season, one thing is perfectly clear for San Francisco.

"We're going to need him big time down the stretch here," Warner said. "This is where all of our playmakers got to step up and make big plays but can't speak enough to how proud of Mooney I am."

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