Jimmie Ward is off to a solid start to his third year with the San Francisco 49ers, gaining enough confidence to get moved outside opposite Tramaine Brock. Ward spent his first two seasons as the nickel back, primarily covering the slot. In season three, he still could get some slot work, but it sounds like Jim O’Neil and Chip Kelly would prefer he stick outside. They discussed the issues of the different mentalities required for a corner on the edge vs. one inside.
Ward met with the media earlier this week following practice, and brought up the inside vs. outside issue He also talked about learning techniques, similarities to Tramaine Brock, and his growing confidence. The confidence is critical, and the more faith the team puts in him, the more it seems to grow. You can view the whole media session here.
On Coach Hafley teaching techniques:
Yea, that’s every day. Every day he’s coaching, I really like him too, as a person, too, besides a coach. He’s always coaching. I always come in extra, trying to dig in his brain, trying to see each day what I can do better. And that was a correction from yesterday because I got beat on that route the first day. It was like an option route by the slot, and we went into film and he told me what to do, and I made corrections.
On what cornerbacks he watches on film:
I watch our cornerbacks. I watch a few like when we play, I like Joe Haden. I watch him to see like what he does since he’s one of the best, and he’s real quick, so I like him too. But I love Tramaine Brock.
On similarities with Brock:
Yea, I would say we’re kinda similar. Quick, aggressive. It’s just, it’s different because I feel like he’s better at covering than me right now because I’m coming from safety and nickel, and I’m more physical.
On if he talks about Haden with DC Jim O’Neil:
He tells me about him all the time. And then he just tells me certain stuff he does well, and then certain stuff he can get better at.
On his influence over people competing for nickel role:
Oh yea, we always talk to get better. Even though it’s a competition and everybody wants their spot, even at corner, everyone wants their spot, they help me just like I help them. Whoever wins the spot, you win, but we’re just trying to get better as a group.
On being unique for him now that he’s a veteran:
Yea, it’s pretty cool. Just to help coach. It’s just the chemistry, man. It’s like nobody has attitude, I didn’t see nobody pouting about how many reps they’re getting. I just feel like we’re more of a team this year.
On volume of plays giving everyone reps:
Man, that goes with it, but it’s just time, we wanna win. That’s what comes down to it, so we just gotta come together. It’s a team sport, it’s not an I.
On his confidence level:
It’s very good right now. Coming off that injury, too, my foot feels better, I got some insoles in, and I’m just real comfortable right now.
On playing outside vs. inside at nickel:
Yea, they saw the pressure, they saw in the spring I was kind of getting frustrated a little bit, but they stuck with me. That’s one thing, when everybody else doubted me, everybody inside the 49ers facility, they always stick by my side.
On what frustrated him:
Oh, just frustrated, you know when somebody catches the ball on me, I’m mad. If I bust a play, I’m mad. We’re all competitors, I’m not happy about it, never will be.