Today we continue the countdown of the top ten most impressive performances of the 49ers 2022 season, with our second entry at number nine on the list.
As a refresher, how did each performance hold up with the eye test. After going back and watching the game film, was it as impressive now as it was at the time?
I also weighed the game’s impact, meaning the stakes of each contest played a role in how these rankings ultimately panned out, and finally, good old-fashioned statistics. So while the eye test was the primary factor being weighed, I also made it a point to place enough emphasis on the objective numbers a player posted in their respective games.
Charvarius Ward @ Carolina Week 5
The 49ers inked Ward to a three-year deal in the hopes he would step in as a true number one cornerback. This game was a coming out party of sorts, validating the Niners investment by showcasing that Ward was, in fact, that shutdown piece in the secondary they had sought after for so long.
Ward was the definition of lockdown in this game, allowing just two receptions on seven targets. He recorded four critical pass break ups, including one in the end zone that kept the Panthers from getting back into striking distance.
His passer rating when targeted in this game was just 47.3, the lowest number of the season in any game where he was targeted multiple times.
The impact went beyond coverage in this contest, registering two stops and three total tackles. His contributions to setting the edge in the run game were vital to the success of the 49ers defense in this one.
He made his presence felt early in this contest, registering a key pass break up on the second play from scrimmage for Carolina’s offense. Matched up in man coverage with standout receiver DJ Moore at the bottom of the screen, Ward is able to disrupt this connection and force the Panthers into a 3rd and short situation.
He then immediately made an impact as a run defender as well, setting the edge to help stonewall his future teammate and keep Christian McCaffrey short of the sticks on 3rd & 1.
He followed that up with yet another pass break up on the Panthers second series of the game, taking away a completion that would have moved the chains for Carolina’s offense.
With Carolina looking to get on the board early in the second half, Ward notched his third pass break up of the game on this ball intended for Panthers wide receiver Chosen Anderson.
Ward’s final pass break up of the game was his most impressive, and it could not have come at a better time. Carolina was deep in 49ers territory with a chance to cut the lead to a one score game.
On 2nd & 10 from the San Francisco 17-yard line, Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield delivered a tremendous ball intended to hit Anderson on a fade route into the end zone.
Ward showed off his tremendous ball skills by fighting through the wideouts hand to force an incompletion that led to the Panthers settling for a field goal. Most importantly, keeping intact a double-digit lead that the 49ers would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.
The 49ers have had some good players come through their secondary in recent years, but Ward’s ability when in man coverage is what sets him apart. At just 27 years old, he is in the prime of his career with the 49ers poised to get what should be the best years to come from the dynamic defensive back.