The start of the new league year brings with it a notable piece of news about the San Francisco 49ers. A year ago, the team picked up the fifth year option on safety Jimmie Ward’s rookie contract, and today the money becomes fully guaranteed.
The 2011 CBA created a rookie wage scale that provided for four year contracts to all draft picks, but a fifth year team option for first round picks. The fifth year option can be exercised after the player’s third year, and at the time it is exercise it becomes guaranteed for injury. If the player is on the roster to start the new league year for that fifth season, it then becomes fully guaranteed.
Ward is coming off a season in which he moved from cornerback to free safety, but then had it cut short with a fractured forearm. He went on injured reserve at the end of October, and it is worth noting that if he could not pass a physical today, the option would have become fully guaranteed. But more than likely the physical was not an issue.
Either way, Ward is on the roster for the 2018 season, with a salary of $8,526,000. The 49ers can trade him if they are so inclined, but I doubt that happens. He will compete with Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert for a starting role in the defense, and given last year’s run of injuries, the more talented bodies the 49ers have, the better.