Kyle Terada/Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada/Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers vs. Chiefs: Competition between Tarvarius Moore and Jimmie Ward will be fun to watch, says Kyle Shanahan

Aug 23, 2019 at 10:41 AM--

San Francisco 49ers safety Jimmie Ward is back at practice, and the plan is to play him on Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Ward may be a latecomer to the starting free safety competition, but head coach Kyle Shanahan is excited to see how the sixth-year defender steps up.

Shanahan said on KNBR Friday morning that Ward could have played on Monday against the Denver Broncos, but the team is taking a cautious approach with the safety as he returns from a fractured collarbone suffered in May. The head coach knows how physically Ward plays and that has led to several injuries, most of which have been season-ending, during his NFL career.

"But he's been full-go this week," Shanahan said on the "Murph and Mac" show. "He's been hitting in practice and stuff, and you guys will get to see him in the game."

Tarvarius Moore has been taking the first-team reps at free safety in Ward's absence. He has emerged as a legitimate option for the starting job. He'll have to hold off Ward, who re-enters the competition after a three-month absence.

"That's what I'm excited to see in this game," Shanahan said. "Jimmie, he had that spot. Jimmie is a very good player, and we know we can win with Jimmie at that spot, but Tarvarius has come in and done a very good job.

"Tarvarius got that opportunity when Jimmie got hurt in OTAs, and Tarvarius got better throughout OTAs, and he's been getting better and better throughout training camp. So I do think [that competition] is going to be one that's fun to watch."

Moore, as you likely know, is moving back to the safety position after spending last year, his first in the NFL, at cornerback. He played safety throughout his collegiate career at Southern Miss and is excited to be back at his natural position.

"It's definitely an easier feel (at safety), a more natural feel, being able to see the whole field," Moore said last week. "Just seeing routes develop and things like that, and being able to break, and just play freely."

In March, the 49ers signed Ward to a one-year deal and hope he can remain healthy this season. His physical style of play likely won't change, though.

"I just play physical. I don't know any other way," Ward told Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee in November after last year's season-ending injury. "It's just a tough break. When it happens, it happens. I've been there before. I'm just going to grind and get back."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Shanahan below.

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