The San Francisco 49ers are hoping to have Jimmie Ward back for practice in the coming week, but in the meantime, rookie free safety Lorenzo Jerome has been getting a significant opportunity. Ward opened camp on the PUP list, and when Jaquiski Tartt suffered a rib injury, Jerome moved into the starting lineup. He has been starting ever since.
Jerome was among the 49ers leaders in snaps on Saturday, getting 37 defensive snaps. More interesting might be the fact that he also got 16 special teams snaps. He looked pretty solid on defense, but if Ward does get back this coming week, special teams is where Jerome would likely make his most significant impact as a rookie. He would potentially get some playing time with the defense as well, but his defensive role with a healthy Ward remains uncertain.
Even if Ward is back this week and can handle the free safety role quickly, it seems like Jerome has effectively locked up his roster spot. He’s been a strong bubble option for much of training camp, but two weeks of solid performances have him in strong shape as we head into the second half of the preseason.