Jimmie Ward’s salary for his 5th-year option is now guaranteed and the one question is if he can stay healthy for 2018. If there’s anyone who has confidence in Ward finally getting right with injuries it’s San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch.
When introducing 49ers free agents Jerick McKinnon and Weston Richburg, Lynch was presented with the question about Ward’s guaranteed money and how comfortable the organization was given Ward’s injury history:
“...you hope a guy like that who has struggled to stay healthy, sometimes early in my career, I couldn’t stay healthy. Then I went about seven, eight years where I never missed a game. We’re hopeful that can come. Sometimes you learn how to take care of your body. Part of it is he plays so darn hard. But, we love that about him and we’re pleased to have him as a part of our group.”
Ward has managed a single 16 game season in his four years with the 49ers and the NFL. His other three have had him in and out of the lineups with the eventual result being sent to injured reserve. He’s averaged 10.5 games per season with his four years in the league.
By comparison, John Lynch averaged 14 games a season, missing one game his rookie year and seven his third year in the league.
When he’s on the field, Ward has been a solid member of the 49ers secondary, offering versatility as a nickel back, outside cornerback, and free safety. Of course, that always can be finalized with a “when.” It looks like he’s got not just support, but empathy from his GM.