SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner has earned Associated Press first-team NFL All-Pro honors for the first time in his pro career.

Named the 49ers’ starting middle linebacker as a rookie in 2018, Warner has started all 16 games at the position in each of his three seasons with the team. The former BYU star was also chosen for his first Pro Bowl following the 2020 regular season.

Warner led the team in tackles this season along with seven quarterback hits, six passes broken up, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a sack. The 49ers team captain was a force on an injury-plagued defense that finished near the top of the league in fewest yards allowed.

The 24-year-old is widely believed by most NFL observers to be the top linebacker in the league, a belief shared by fellow first team All-Pro Aaron Rodgers.

Warner, who will enter the last year of his rookie contract in 2021, is likely headed toward a record-setting contract extension this offseason. 49ers General Manager John Lynch told reporters earlier this week the team expects to lock up Warner and other young defensive standouts.

‘Fred’s a special leader, a special player, and a big part of the fabric of this team,” said Lynch. “And I see that as an opportunity, and we’ll find a way to keep him here.”