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Is Jimmie Ward better suited to play in the slot?

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San Francisco 49ers vLos Angeles Rams Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Versatility has been the name of Jimmie Ward’s game since he was an NFL Draft prospect. Ward was one of the best players on the field for the 49ers on Sunday. Check out these plays he made from Brian Baldinger:

Check out these plays he made from Brian Baldinger:

The first play, Ward shows off his range for the tackle. After that, he’s playing in the nickel/box making plays. Ward had the big fourth-down stop; then, you see him in the slot three times taking routes away. He defended three Rams on a pivot route going in both directions, then again on an out route.

K’Waun Williams left the game with a hamstring injury, and we’re waiting to hear from Kyle Shanahan how severe the injury is. Shanahan will speak to the media at 4:00 p.m. PT on Monday.

If Williams is forced to miss time, sliding Tarvarius Moore or D.J. Reed at free safety and inserting Ward in the slot will make for an easy transition. Ward’s aggressiveness against the run is a big reason why. The secondary has done an excellent job in five games with their run fits, and Ward’s play on 4th & short above is a perfect example.

His coverage in the slot allows the 49ers to be more aggressive. Robert Saleh can blitz more, knowing that Ward is better in coverage than K’Waun. Williams has one bad game, but he hasn’t been a liability. That doesn’t mean Ward can’t and won’t be better. Look at the times Williams has gotten his hands on a pass this season. Two interceptions that were both gifted to him. Ward broke up a pass on two of his three targets, and if the ball was accurate on the last throw, he has a shot at getting his hands on a third pass. That’s the difference between the two, and that’s why I believe Ward can have a great impact in the slot. To me, that position is more important that free safety in this defense.

It feels like opposing offenses rarely test the 49ers defense deep. In the “eraser” role, you need a safety that can make an open-field tackle. Moore struggled with that, and Reed is a step down from Ward. Does the question become that trade-off for an open-field tackler worth strengthening your defense near the line of scrimmage? I say, yes.

Poll

What position should Jimmie Ward play

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    Free Safety
    (814 votes)
  • 35%
    Nickel CB
    (455 votes)
1269 votes total Vote Now

What say you?