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Chip Kelly: Jimmie Ward not moving to safety because he is our best cornerback

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The 49ers are high on Jimmie Ward’s skill-set and versatility.

The San Francisco 49ers will roll out Jaquiski Tartt next to Antoine Bethea when they face the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, and part of the decision was due to Jimmie Ward’s value to the defense. On Wednesday, head coach Chip Kelly told the media that Ward is the team’s best cornerback, which is why he is not moving to safety.

Kelly cited Ward’s versatility as the reason for this statement. He made it clear that it was not meant to denigrate Tramaine Brock. Rather, it was Ward’s ability to move inside in the nickel at times that provided versatility to the defense.

In previous press conferences, defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil has talked about Tramaine Brock and the difficult assignments he gets. Brock has been a steady presence outside as the team develops their secondary. Ward is the more athletically gifted player, but Brock quietly goes about his work. Brock had some rough patches earlier this year, giving up four touchdowns in two games, but otherwise, he remains a steady presence.

Ward remains in the NFL concussion protocol, suffering the injury in the fourth quarter this past Sunday. This whole discussion is moot for the time being if he cannot play this coming weekend. If he does not go, Rashard Robinson will get the start in his place, and Ward will eventually return to the starting lineup whenever he is cleared from the concussion protocol. And if Ward is able to go this weekend, well, all the better.