San Francisco 49ers safety Jimmie Ward is a guy that you realize knows the game of football within a minute or so of talking to him. During Super Bowl week, we were lucky enough to sit down with him and talk strategy, scheme, and defense. That seven-minute sit down was enough to understand why the coaching staff and front office love him. Ward doesn’t lack self-awareness, either. He knows he’s talented. On Friday, Ward took to Instagram to talk about the 49ers’ options at safety on his story. Here’s what he said:
Harris is going to be more expensive than me in free agency FYI. If you draft a safety in the first round, the two names y’all keep throwing up every other day, just know you can’t use them how our DC used me this past season. Best bet is to draft a coverage safety in the later rounds to get a steal. Stick with T. Moore at safety if they don’t sign me back.
Point to the lie. The safeties Ward is referring to are Grant Delpit, who missed a tackle 20% of the time his last season at LSU—which is more than double of Ward’s broken tackle percentage in 2019. The other safety is Alabama’s Xavier McKinney, who ran a 4.63 40-yard dash and lacks size, strength, and also has tackling issues. McKinney can play all over like Ward, however.
As far as “Harris,” Ward is referring to Vikings safety Anthony Harris, who is set to break the bank this free agency. Harris has been one of the better safeties in the NFL the past two seasons. Spotrac estimates he’ll make around $14 million annually. Ward is likely going to make half of that.
Going back to the draft, safety isn’t as pressing of a need because you have Tarvarius Moore. Though he’s unproven, investing in a safety early in the draft is essentially giving up on Moore, who should have never been playing cornerback. If Ward has confidence in Moore and is willing to endorse him publicly, you have to think the team feels the same way. He played down the stretch in some critical moments. Week 17 against the Seahawks, in the NFC Championship game against the Packers, and the Super Bowl, where Moore had an interception.
What about Ward?
If I had to guess how free agency plays out for Ward, he tests the market and finds out there is interest, but not like some fans or he thinks. The soft market will make Ward consider rejoining the 49ers, and from there, it becomes a personal decision. Ward told me he loves playing with his high school teammate Jaquiski Tartt. In postgame press conferences, players like Richard Sherman would go out of their way to praise Ward. The “culture” could be a big part of why Ward is a 49er in 2020. That, and this is the best team and fit for Ward. If he moves on to another team, San Francisco should have plenty of confidence in Tarvarius.