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2021 Breakout Candidates: Are we sleeping on Jimmie Ward?

Based on what he’s been saying this offseason, he certainly thinks so

Buffalo Bills v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

By now, you know the narratives surrounding the 2021 49ers. The QB controversy. The health of Nick Bosa. The health of, well, everyone else. There are only so many things the national media can focus on for any given team. Here at Niners Nation, however, we have the luxury of being able to dive deeper into the 49ers to unearth the truths that would otherwise be hidden from the national spotlight.

Case in point, Jimmie Ward.

In today’s Niners Nation Radio podcast, Jason Aponte joined Leo Luna to discuss the 49ers that could make their first Pro Bowl this year. Jimmie Ward was a primary contender in Aponte’s eyes, despite his infamous lack of interceptions.

“It’s about making people do things that they’re uncomfortable with because of what he offers you. Where he’s slotted, most of the time, they never throw the ball to him. They never go towards him, that’s why he never has a chance to make interceptions. That’s what people will never understand about Jimmie Ward not creating turnovers.”

As noted on the show, Ward seems to be on a personal mission to put himself on the national map this season. Whether it’s calling out the NFL’s tight ends on Instagram or ripping Sean McVay during an interview with Grant Cohn, Ward definitely isn’t worried about getting on people’s radar this year.

It’s not the worst strategy for trying to make your first Pro Bowl. Many in the NFL will say it takes two straight years of balling out to finally break through the national consciousness. Fred Warner certainly knows what’s it like not to get the recognition you deserve after a great season.

Perhaps Ward is banking on a change in defensive philosophy to help him accumulate some of the counting stats that many of the Pro Bowl voters are fond of citing. If DeMeco Ryans truly will be more aggressive this year, Ward could be in better position to pull in the interceptions that have so far eluded him in his career.

Clearly, Jimmie Ward is trying to do all he can to make sure people are paying attention to his play this season. Whether he can live up to the expectations he’s building is another matter entirely, but it sure will be fun to watch.

Other topics in today’s episode

  • Is George Kittle the face of the 49ers?
  • Who would you take for the next five years: Kyle Shanahan or Sean McVay?