Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports



The San Francisco 49ers announced on Monday that they have officially picked up Jimmie Ward's fifth-year option – an option available to NFL teams for all of their first-round draft picks.

It's looking likely that Ward will transition back to the position that he became accustomed to in college – safety. Ward has played both safety and corner since being drafted by the 49ers in 2014. In 2016, he was praised by the previous coaching staff as the team's best cornerback and ended up being graded as the team's second-best defensive back by Pro Football Focus. The only defensive back graded higher was cornerback Tramaine Brock, who is no longer on the team following an arrest in early April.

Like so many other 49ers players, Ward ended the 2016 season on injured reserve following a shoulder injury suffered during a December matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.

The 49ers are transitioning to a single-high safety scheme and Ward is expected to fill that role. He is entering his fourth season with the 49ers and has accumulated 110 tackles, two sacks, 20 passes defended, and two interceptions over his three seasons.

"We think he can play at a high level at both positions but that's something that's going to have to do with how he ends up showing us in practice and how our roster ends up panning out," head coach Kyle Shanahan told the media following the start of the team's offseason program in April.

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