BOTTOM LINE Wiry, active, aggressive strong safety at his best playing downhill and reacting to plays in front him. Lacks starter-caliber size, instincts, range, and cover skills, but could serve as a backup and special-teams contributor.
Ward is a better player than that. Most 49ers fans would agree, despite how they feel about him. On that report one of his weaknesses was his size, and how that could get him in trouble at the next level. Ward’s 2018 was cut short yet again due to injury. The frustrating part for fans is that Ward has value. He is the type of free safety you want in this Cover 3 defense. Ward isn’t a ballhawk, but you won’t see constant miscommunication on the backend with him out there.
2019 has more question marks as Ward has now played 27 of a possible 48 games in the last three years. The front office is rolling with Ward, in any case. For the first time in his career, Ward will have the benefit of playing with a high-end defensive line. We will see if that impacts his ability to make plays on the ball.
Age: 27 (but you can wish him a 28th birthday on July 18th.)
Experience: 5 accrued seasons
Weight: 192 lbs.
Jimmie Ward signed a one year, $4.5 million contract with the 49ers. $3 million of the contract is guaranteed. The remaining $1.5 million is paid as per-game bonuses. An additional $500,000 is available as incentives based on playing time. His cap hit for 2019 is $3,843,750.
How he might improve in 2019
Ward needs to play every game. That’s it. He could be Ed Reed for six games, and that won’t matter. The 49ers are relying on him to contribute for the entire season, which is quite the risk. PFF charged Ward for giving up four touchdowns last year. Two of those came against the Kansas City Chiefs when he was playing cornerback. He was charged for two other ones against the Giants, and one of those was against that Odell Beckham Jr. guy.
The area I’d like to see Ward improve is being aggressive against the pass like he is against the run.
How he might regress in 2019
Again, it just comes down to playing a full season. That’s all anyone will judge Ward on this year. A regression would be from Ward not showing the flashes he’s shown each year. Ward would have to start missing tackles or giving up big plays behind him at free safety. If that happens, this will be the final season Ward plays as a 49er.