Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Verrett, Jimmie Ward praise 49ers rookies, while Ward ready to be the ‘A-hole’ if need be

Jun 2, 2021 at 4:04 PM--

49ers veteran defensive backs Jason Verrett and Jimmie Ward seem to really like what they've seen so far out of the team's defensive rookies.

But while Verrett and Ward are excited about their new teammates to this point, there may come a time when they as veterans need to show the rookies some tough love. And when that time comes, Ward at least seems to be ready.

Verrett and Ward were asked about cornerback and third-round pick Ambry Thomas, cornerback and fifth-round pick Deommodore Lenoir, and safety and fifth-round pick Talanoa Hufanga while speaking with team beat reporters on Wednesday. Verrett seemed to be impressed with Lenoir in particular.

"D-Mo, that's a guy that I think has come along real well just from the first time of seeing the film of him at rookie minicamp," Verrett said. "A guy that's really good at press. I definitely watched him all throughout this time he's been here. The second that he gets more comfortable out there, he could definitely be a good player for us. Along with Ambry, he's a guy who's real versatile, fast, and so far a lot of the rookies have been playing well."

Ward later offered up some general thoughts on the rookies as a whole.

"Great press work, quick feet. They're humble," Ward said. "They come to work every day. I love their attitude. It's just a great rookie group. I don't really have too many complaints about them. I love them."

But while those quotes were both among the highlights of Wednesday's media sessions, Ward may have had the quote of the day when he discussed what type of leader he may have to be for the rookies this season. Ward seems to be ready to fill any role the team will need him to take on in that regard, even if it's the... uh, bad guy.

"Hopefully I'm not the a**hole," Ward said. "I don't feel like I'm an a**hole. I don't think I'm able to say that. I don't know. If I've got to be an a**hole, I know I've got to do it. I feel like Sherm taught me a lot. The few years Sherm (Richard Sherman) was here, I feel like he was one of the best leaders I ever saw in the game of football. If I've got to be an a**hole, I'll be an a**hole. If I've got to be a big brother, I'll be a big brother. If I've got to be a coach, I'll be a coach. But at the end of the day, I can't do none of that if I don't lead by example. So I've got to work on me. I've got to set the example first."

Ward, Verrett and the rest of the 49ers will have one more OTA session this week on Friday before wrapping up OTAs on June 7, 8, and 10. The offseason schedule will then come to a close with mandatory minicamp on June 15-17.

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