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Three days after the San Francisco 49ers' win over the Los Angeles Rams, defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil met with the media. One of the topics that he discussed was cornerback Jimmie Ward, who filled in for Chris Davis at nickel. After not practicing all week, Davis did not play on Monday night.
Ward started his 49ers career as a nickel cornerback for the team. However, this offseason, he practiced primarily at the cornerback position opposite starter Tramaine Brock.
O'Neil was asked how the third-year cornerback did while filling in at a position that he has played before. "I thought he did a really good job," he said. "I mean, there are some things, technique-wise, that I think he needs to continue to clean up. He competed, made some plays, blitzed. And again, that's something, in the past, with me coaching, that's been very hard for guys to do. Jimmie's a rare guy and he wants to do that.
"I prefer to just keep him on the outside and put him on an island out there and let him go, but he did a really good job. When Chris [Davis] went down last week and we needed him to do it, he didn't bat an eye at it."
O'Nell said that Ward's role with the defense will be something that the defensive coaching staff looks at from week to week.
Advanced analytics site Pro Football Focus updated their Week 1 grades on Wednesday for all NFL players. Not only is Ward now the team's top cornerback with an impressive 89.8 grade, but he is now the team's highest graded player during Week 1. That was an honor that just 24 hours ago belonged the Tramaine Brock, who saw his grade fall from 88.2 to 75.4. On Tuesday, Ward's grade was 87.7.