There are few players on the 49ers as entertaining as Jimmie Ward. If you put a microphone in front of him, he’ll provide the rest. Ward took to Instagram Tuesday night to talk about a bit of everything. Let’s recap what he said.
No love from the media
Jimmie wasted little time saying without saying that he despises the local media and how they play favorites, specifically when it comes to using PFF. As you might imagine, Ward isn’t looking at this objectively. So keep that in mind.
Ward said he felt like the 49ers media didn’t push him since he’s not a draft pick of the current front office. He cited how early in the season when he was injured there were multiple tweets about how safeties Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson had high PFF grades, but never felt the same type of love when he played well.
Jimmie went on multiple rants, and they were all worth the watch. Ward doesn’t believe other safeties in the league are as valuable as him. He named how players like Minkah Fitzpatrick don’t cover the slot like he does, or that Budda Baker may not be as good of a tackler.
Safety, no nickel
The talking point that’ll catch everyone’s ears was when Ward got into contracts. Ward wants to be paid like a safety, and believes the 49ers moved him to nickel to drive down his price. He led with that before speaking about the players mentioned above.
Jimmie said he went to Kyle Shanahan after the Chiefs game and said he would rather not play nickel anymore. Ward had still been playing with a cast and allowed all six of his targets to be completed that game, although it was only for 42 yards.
Shanahan told Ward, “what do you wanna do dude, do you wanna ride the bench?” Ward said that was the moment he knew that his safety spot was gone.
Ward continued, saying the 49ers negotiated through his position coach. The team told him they could make him the highest-paid nickel in the league, but that’s not something that appeals to Jimmie. He wants safety money. Ward felt like the team low-balled him, or “low-blow” was the term he used.
I’m fascinated to know what’s considered top slot cornerback money. Is it Darious Williams of the Jaguars and Kendall Fuller of the Commanders? Both of them make $10 million annually.
That money would make Ward the 15th-highest paid safety in the NFL. He’s currently the 18th-highest paid safety. His market will be interesting at 32. Despite his age, Ward turned out to be a prolific slot cornerback.
I’d argue the NFL is trending toward putting your best defensive backs in the slot to combat what offenses are doing. Ward fits that mold, as he is excellent against the run and quick enough to defend slot receivers.
What to do at quarterback
When you hear Ward talk, he’s blunt and to the point. So, what he’s saying may come off as harsh, when it’s simply the truth from his perspective. Jimmie said the 49ers “have a QB problem.” And once the team figures that out, they’ll need to extend Nick Bosa.
From my standpoint and judging by Ward’s tone, he wasn’t talking down to Trey Lance or Brock Purdy. Ward was saying the 49ers have to figure out who is the guy for Kyle Shanahan heading into Year 7.
Either way, Lance is an unknown, Jimmy Garoppolo is a free agent, and Brock Purdy is likely shelved for nine months. That does not bode well for a team whose Super Bowl window won’t be open for much longer, especially if the quarterback position remains a question mark.
The tweets and headlines will sound harsh, but Ward didn’t say anything that most of us don’t already know regarding the position. Lance will be ready for the offseason program. He’ll be facing more pressure than any quarterback I can remember that hasn’t started five games by the beginning of the regular season.
Ward didn’t close the door on returning to the 49ers. In fact, he said, “whatever decision I’m gonna make, it’s gonna be the best team. It’ll have to do with the finances. Hopefully, it’s the Niners.”
Will San Francisco pay Jimmie what he feels is representative of his value? We shall find out. When Ward spoke highly of Samuel Womack early during his IG live, it painted the picture that the team will move on with Womack in the slot next year.
Jimmie said Womack was good enough to keep playing, but the NFL is a business, and he was making too much money to sit on the bench. It was refreshing to hear him speak so freely about the harsh reality that’s the NFL.
But when you hear Ward say things like, “I was blessed to play here for 9 years,” it’s easy to assume he’s played his last down for the team that drafted him.