San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told the media on Wednesday that he has spent the past few weeks reviewing film on the 49ers, and that brought up a question about the defense. He was asked at one point about Jimmie Ward’s role in the 49ers defense. More specifically, he asked if Ward is a cornerback or safety in the 49ers defense. According to Matt Maiocco, Shanahan is not sure yet.
“That’s something that’ll be discussed because I know that he’s capable of doing both. When we know our whole roster and our options in the draft, free agency, what’s he going to be best for us. But when you have a guy who’s capable of playing both, it gives you some freedom, which is nice.”
Shanahan once again acknowledged the team plans on moving to a Seattle type of Cover 3 defense, which means they will need a center field option at safety. Eric Reid has played deep, but does not seem to be the most skilled option for that role. Jimmie Ward has some durability questions, but his development as a cornerback suggests he could do some solid work ranging deep.
Shanahan did say that John Lynch will weigh in on that. Lynch was a Hall of Fame finalist at safety. He was more of the big-hitting kind, but he has more than enough knowledge about playing in the back-end of the secondary.
Free agency and the draft will certainly tell us a lot about what the 49ers eventually have planned for Ward. The free agency class seems like it is a bit more suited for a thumper role, but notable names to keep an eye on come April will include Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker. The 49ers will begin their offseason workout program before the draft, but we might not know for certain what the plan is with Ward until after the draft is a wrap.