The San Francisco 49ers surprised most of their fans Thursday evening as they selected Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward. People were shaking their heads a bit, but he seems to actually have the kind of versatility that the 49ers can utilize in their secondary. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh spoke about the pick shortly afterward, and he said the team expects him to compete for the nickel back role. Harbaugh said the team liked how Ward got around the field, which will be a boost for the secondary.
There has been a lot of positive commentary thus far about the move. Here are a few tweets from some people all around the wild west of the Internet! Before you check those out, feel free to read over an article from our MAC blog, Hustle Belt. They like him a lot.
Per source: #49ers will start Ward as a nickel and groom him to be a safety to take over for Bethea— Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) May 9, 2014
Jimmie Ward is arguably the best cover safety for this year's draft.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) May 9, 2014
Jimmie Ward has some Kenny Vaccaro-type traits. That'll help any defense. Was ranked as my No. 17 overall prospect. #49ers— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) May 9, 2014
Some might point to S not being a need for #49ers, but Jimmie Ward can play in the slot in "sub-package" sets and counter mismatch targets.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) May 9, 2014
Gotta think they are planning on playing a ton of Big Nickel with 3 Safeties, which I see is a trend around the NFL going forward— Matt Williamson (@WilliamsonNFL) May 9, 2014
Love Jimmie Ward…one of the best nickel cover guys in the draft. Poor man's Earl Thomas coming out of Texas.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) May 9, 2014
SEA, SF and AZ are using same model for safety position…1 big/physical banger, 1 athletic FS that can also play in the slot.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) May 9, 2014
Congrats to Jimmy Ward! I see why they picked you bro, you have that mean streak! You'll learn a lot from that entire defensive staff!— DonteHitner (@DonteWhitner) May 9, 2014