Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports


Covid Hits Jimmie Ward and 49ers’ Secondary

Chris Beno
Jan 5, 2022 at 11:00 AM--


The 49ers secondary has taken a beating this season, losing its top cornerback Jason Verrett to a torn ACL in Week One. Since then, injuries have continued to plague players in the secondary, as the team has had to rely on rookies and free-agent veterans to step in and carry the load.

This week, the secondary has taken a few more hits as two players were added to the Reserve/Covid list. Cornerbacks Dontae Johnson and K'waun Williams and safety Jimmie Ward all tested positive for Covid-19 or got popped through contact tracing.

The good news is they tested early in the week, meaning they could be available for this Sunday's game against the Rams.


It could be a long day for the defense if the 49ers are without two of their starters in the secondary on Sunday. Rookie corner Deommodore Lenoir could get the start in the slot, covering the likes of Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who leads the NFL in receiving yards (1829 yards).

Ward already missed one game earlier this season, which exposed numerous rookies on the field, including safety Talanoa Hufanga. Ward is, in many ways, the quarterback of the defense, holding that secondary together, making it one of the best units in the NFL. What Ward does on the field doesn't necessarily show up on the stat sheet, but he is one of the most important players on that defensive unit.

If Ward, Johnson, and Williams are ruled out, expect veterans Josh Norman and Tavon Wilson to step in and start the game.

Norman got benched late in the game Sunday against the Houston Texans, so it's unclear whether or not Johnson would've gotten the start over him this week, barring veteran cornerback Emmanuel Moseley being ruled out another week.


The 49ers signed cornerback Darqueze Dennard to the practice squad earlier this week. Dennard was the 24th overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014. Clearly, the team is preparing for the possibility of being without one of their starting corners on Sunday.

In many ways, this Sunday's game is the first playoff game. The 49ers need to win to make the playoffs. The Rams need to win the NFC West and remain the number two seed in the NFC. The 49ers will need all of its starters available Sunday to come away with the win.
  • Chris Beno
  • Written by:
    Coming from Elk Grove, California I grew up a Bay Area sports fan. I've been cheering for the 49ers for as long as I can remember. In 2005 I joined the Army when I was 18 and got stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. I just kind of hung around here. I've always enjoyed writing and have typically focused on writing music. I am truly blessed to get to cover the 49ers, and have my articles published on the 49ers Webzone. I didn't realize it was something I wanted to pursue as a career, but am now focused on doing just that. I appreciate all of the Faithful that take the time to read the articles people put out there.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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