For the first time since he broke his collarbone three months ago, San Francisco 49ers safety Jimmie Ward would participate in team drills during Thursday’s practice. Ward had been practicing in individual drills, and up until recently, wearing a blue jersey, which is a non-contact jersey. Head coach Kyle Shanahan also said that Ward will play during Saturday’s preseason matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. This was almost a month longer than the anticipated timetable—six to eight weeks— but Shanahan mentioned how the team is being cautious with players that are coming back from injury.
This will lead to endless questions and debates as to whether Ward will start at free safety over Tarvarius Moore. Let’s say that Robert Saleh decides that Moore is the answer. To keep Ward on the field, could you see him putting Ward back in the slot—especially factoring in K’Waun William’s injury? That’s me playing devil’s advocate, and I know Ward has played there before, but it’s just a thought. It’s no secret that the team loves Ward. I have a hard time imagining that he won’t be on the field in some way.
We’ll get a long look at Jimmy
Shanahan said that Jimmy Garoppolo would play more against the Chiefs. He talked about the mental hurdles and how that’s a challenge for everyone coming back from a major injury. He didn’t seem too concerned about Garoppolo’s performance on Monday Night. Shanahan used the analogy of how going back to the crime scene could be “eerie.”
Knowing Garoppolo needs reps, will likely play through the first half and possibly a bit more. It’ll all depend on how things go, as well as the play count. This probably has more to do with getting the entire first-team offense 30 plays or so to evaluate them against a live defense. The Chiefs added Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu, but nobody is going to confuse that defense with the Broncos, as well as the complex looks that the Broncos presented. Should we worry if the offense can’t move the ball against Kansas City?