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Jimmie Ward: ‘I never refused to play nickel’

The 49ers safety took to his Instagram to get the last word

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The longest-tenured 49ers player appears to be on his way out. If you follow Jimmie Ward on Instagram, you received a notification that Ward was going live.

You knew we were in store for an entertaining evening when he started with, “word is that 49ers scouts are looking to replace Jimmie Ward. That’s cool. I think they’ll need a first or second rounder to do that. How the 49ers trained me, that’s hard for anybody to do. I ain’t bragging on myself. They trained me like Ronnie Lott.”

Ward continued, but you won’t find a better lede than the paragraph above. Jimmie’s point of going live was to talk about playing in the slot:

“Let’s talk about that nickel stuff. I never refused to play Nickel. I always wanted to play Nickel because I watch a lot of film. I was telling my coaches, once KK [K’Wuan Williams] wasn’t going to sign back, ‘hey, look, I need to start getting reps. I need to start getting reps at Nickel so we don’t have this problem. Put me at Nickel in camp. Put me at Nickel in OTAs’

They didn’t want to do that because they had Quez at the time. The plan was, at the time, to draft some players. Since the draft didn’t happen yet. So they ended up drafting Sammy [Samuel Womack] and they ended up putting D-Mo [Deommodore Lenoir] in there a little bit in the slot. So I couldn’t get any reps.

So I was like, OK, all right. If I can’t get any reps, and something happens. Somebody goes down. You just gonna throw Jimmie Ward out there and tell me to sink or swim? So that’s how I was protecting myself. It’s a whole nother world in that slot.

And I appreciate the fans who had my back who was saying to put Jimmie Ward back at free safety. I figured it out, though. But I appreciate y’all having my back. It’s a challenge. You have to overcome adversity. So that was my challenge. That’s something that I had to preserve through.”

The third-person references are magical.

Ward’s comments come on the heels of John Lynch’s availability during the NFL Combine, where the 49ers general manager had a different recollection of how Ward switching positions played out.

Lynch laughed when asked about benching Ward, saying, “Kyle doesn’t remember it quite like that. We were never benching Jimmie. I think he more tried to sell him on why it was a good thing for him and our team.”

Ward, out of nowhere, began to discuss the prospects of Jessie Bates coming to the 49ers. Jimmie said:

“They don’t got the money to pay him because they have to pay Bosa. But if they do pay him, he’s gotta be one of the highest-paid safeties. He’s on board to be one of the highest-paid safeties right now.

So, you pay him. You lose Mike McGlinchey. You’re losing Robbie Gould. Well, you might not lose Mike McGlinchey if you just pay him. I don’t know how this is going to go. But they don’t have the bread.

But if y’all feel like there’s another safety that’s better than me or can do some stuff that I can do, then pay him. You’re still going to spend over $15 million a year.”

Ward acknowledged that he’s friends with Bates and didn’t come off as spiteful.

You have to acknowledge that there will be inevitable emotions involved. He admitted to not knowing who would get paid, despite saying the 49ers don’t have the money to sign a top-flight safety. It felt like this was Jimmie getting the last word and nothing more.