The San Francisco 49ers re-signed safety Jimmie Ward to a three-year deal worth $28.5 million, per Ian Rapoport. After the 49ers dealt DeForest Buckner to the Colts early Monday afternoon, they had about $16 million in cap space. That allowed the team to get a deal done with one of the locker rooms’ favorite players. Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch gush about Ward—who is the 49ers longest-tenured defensive player—every time they talk about him. You have to imagine they’re thrilled to get him back.
Ward is coming off his best season yet. It’s no surprise 2019 was also the most games Ward had played in a season. He gets a bad rap from injuries, and there’s no hiding from that, but we saw the type of talent Ward was last season. Ward was a couple of turnovers away from being an All-Pro. That’s the next step in his game. If Ward is going to be on the field, now it’s a matter of getting takeaways. He’s great in man coverage, zone coverage, in the box, deep, anywhere on the field—you’d feel comfortable lining Ward up there. If he can find a way to force fumbles or intercept passes, the 49ers are dealing with an All-Pro free safety.
The contract details will be interesting for Ward. You have to imagine it is heavily-incentivized for injury and performance. I’m happy for him. Ward is one of the smarter players that I’ve watched. He stayed healthy and earned a deal. That’s two of the big unrestricted free agents. Can the team keep Emmanuel Sanders next? Was the decision to keep all three big unrestricted free agents or keep Buckner?