“Jimmie has proven to possess many of the characteristics we are looking for in a 49er, and we are excited to keep him in red and gold. His no-nonsense passion for the game amplifies his special physical abilities, while also setting a tone for our defense. This extension allows Jimmie to continue to grow in our defense, and we look forward to seeing where he can take his game.”
Their plan was all about sustaining excellence, and it worked out about as well as expected. Defensive end Arik Armstead’s five-year deal cost $48.5 million in guarantees. Still, the team got a slight discount on safety Jimmie Ward, who had a $10 million per year offer from another team — Las Vegas was believed to be interested in him — yet signed with San Francisco for $9.5 million annually out of familiarity.
As for those Tom Brady rumors, one team source said: “I don’t know why that was a thing.”
I love the Brady jab in there at the end. The 49ers weren’t ever going to make a big splash in free agency with their salary cap. The team didn’t need to be big players in free agency because they already have a Super Bowl roster.
As for Ward, who knows how much more the Raiders were willing to pay him upfront than the 49ers. Money matters, but these guys want to win. CB Chris Harris said he didn’t want to play for Las Vegas because it was a bad fit. Harris was on the radio, saying the Raiders wanted to keep LaMarcus Joyner and play Harris in the slot. Harris wanted to play all over.
During Super Bowl week, Ward told me he wants to play safety. His dream is to play in that “Tyrann Mathieu” role where you’re playing all over the place. Ward played 120 snaps in the box, 153 as a slot corner, seven on the defensive line, and five as an outside cornerback. Robert Saleh did an outstanding job in 2019 of making both Ward and his high school teammate Jaquiski Tartt interchangeable. Playing alongside Tartt, being able to play multiple positions, and having a chance to compete for a Super Bowl is likely the reason Ward chose the 49ers over the Raiders.