TOP 10 Linebacker seasons
Niner Report|August 31, 2021
Fred Warner vaulted to stardom with a spectacular 2020 season — and the 49ers rewarded him this summer with a $95.225 million deal that makes him the highest-paid inside linebacker in NFL history. By today’s standards, Warner’s performance last year was worth the money as he posted an Approximate Value of 19 — matching the highest score ever recorded by a San Francisco defender according to a Pro Football Reference formula that puts a single number on each player-season across all positions since 1960. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman (twice) also had seasons with an AV of 19 as they dominate this list of the greatest individual seasons by a linebacker in 49ers history.
Craig Massei

1 Patrick Willis, 2009: Either of Willis’ first seven seasons with the 49ers could have qualified for this list. But this was the best of them, setting the standard for all NFL linebackers of the 21st century. Entering his prime in his third season, Willis’ instinctive, missile-seeking style and unique, cat-quick skills helped him lead the NFL with 152 tackles and 114 solo stops. A powerful force and playmaking threat in every way, Willis also had a career-high three interceptions — returning one for a TD — among his eight passes defensed to begin a string of four consecutive seasons as a first-team All-Pro. All elements of Willis’ game shined; he also forced three fumbles, recorded four sacks and posted career-highs with 13 tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hits in what was an individual season of pure magnificence.

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