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John Lynch: Jimmie Ward is a good scheme fit at free safety

This could shake up a few positions.

The San Francisco 49ers have begun the process of changing their defense to a 4-3 scheme similar to what the Seattle Seahawks have been using. That will result in a lot of changes on that side of the ball, and 2014 first round pick Jimmie Ward could be among those making a significant change.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said the team likes what Ward is capable of being both a cornerback and a safety, but on Thursday, general manager John Lynch offered a little more clarity, according to 49ers beat writer Eric Branch. The new GM said Ward is a “good scheme fit for what we’re doing at the free safety position.” Lynch said this was based entirely off the film they have watched, but they think his traits and skills translate well to the Earl Thomas role.

Lynch made sure to clarify they won’t know for certain until they get him out there. However, that strongly suggests Ward is going to get some opportunities at free safety when the team gets into the offseason workout program. The team could still find a safety in free agency or the draft that is a better fit. The team might decide Ward is strong enough as an outside cornerback that it makes sense to look elsewhere at safety.

If Ward does move to safety, Rashard Robinson would be the most likely replacement for him opposite Tramaine Brock. Additionally, it would mean Reid likely moves to more of a strong safety, in-the-box role. That could also mean Antoine Bethea gets released. The team could bring all of them into camp to compete, but given Bethea’s veteran status, if Reid is going to replace him, I have a feeling the 49ers would release him to give him more of the offseason to find a new home.