The San Francisco 49ers were back on the practice field for the start of OTAs, and that means we can start getting some hints about the depth chart. The 49ers defense featured the most intriguing bit of information on Tuesday as nickel back Jimmie Ward got work at one of the two outside cornerback positions in the base defense
Here's a look at what the first-team defense looked like on Tuesday:
#49ers defense, first unit:— Cam Inman (@CamInman) May 17, 2016
Front: Lynch, Armstead, Purcell, Dial, Harold
ILB: Bowman, Hodges
CB: Brock, Ward
S: Bethea, Reid
The beat writers said Ward then moved inside to the slot role when the team went to nickel. Chris Biderman said that Dontae Johnson took over outside in the nickel.
Ward showed serious improvement in his second season, and the team seems ready to push on that. After the 49ers drafted Will Redmond, Trent Baalke talked about Ward's eventual transition to safety. He did not specify the timeline on that however, and I could see it being focused more toward 2017 than this year. We might see some safety work for Ward, but I think next year is when this will be a bigger deal.
For those wondering, DeForest Buckner worked with the third string defense on this first day. I imagine he will slowly work his way into the mix as he gets a better handle on the defense. I would be surprised if he was not a substantial member of the nickel defense when the regular season gets started.