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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

John Lynch says Jimmie Ward fitting at cornerback would be a ‘tremendous boost’ for 49ers

Mar 27, 2018 at 11:40 AM--

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While the San Francisco 49ers were intrigued by defensive back Jimmie Ward playing safety last offseason, the emergence of third-year player Jaquiski Tartt and rookie Adrian Colbert at safety has altered the team's plans. Now, the 49ers are intrigued with Ward, who is familiar with moving around on the 49ers defense, as a cornerback. He has already played multiple positions with the unit throughout his four NFL seasons.

Ward's salary cap figure of $8.526 million is the fifth-highest on the team. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, so if the 49ers cannot find a proper fit for the defensive back this year, he will likely be allowed to hit the open market.

49ers general manager John Lynch joined Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area on the "49ers Insider Podcast" and discussed the team's plan to experiment with Ward at cornerback.

"We went back and studied some of his outside corner film, and we feel like it's actually a pretty good fit," Lynch said. "Jimmie's versatility is often talked about ... Part of the plan is to stick him over there at outside corner and see what we have there and, I think, to give him some time during the offseason.

"We know he can play safety. He has played nickel before, but I think it would be a tremendous boost to our depth if we found out Jimmie is actually is a really good fit for us."

Lynch went on to say that testing Ward at cornerback does not necessarily rule him out as a safety.

"When you're trying to put your roster together, guys that can do multiple things are of great value," Lynch continued. "That doesn't say though that at the end of the offseason, we're not going to say, 'Hey, free safety is his best spot.'

"But we feel like it's worth our while and worth his while to check him out there and see what he can provide in this system."

If healthy, free agent acquisition Richard Sherman will almost certainly be one of the 49ers' starting cornerbacks. Last season, Ahkello Witherspoon started nine games for the 49ers as a rookie and is a strong candidate to play opposite Sherman.

If Ward is to start on the outside, he will likely need to beat out Witherspoon. Otherwise, Ward will merely be an expensive backup if he isn't moved back to safety to compete with Colbert.

You can listen to the entire interview with Lynch below.

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