Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Notebook: Jimmie Ward the villain, Danny Gray’s speed, Charvarius Ward impressions, Alex Mack’s future

May 24, 2022 at 5:36 PM--

Several San Francisco 49ers players spoke with reporters following Tuesday's practice, the first of organized team activities (OTAs) that was open to the media. Below are some noteworthy updates from those players that weren't already covered here.

Danny Gray = Speed

Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk was asked to share his first impressions of rookie Danny Gray, the receiver selected in the third round of the draft.

"He can fly," Aiyuk said. "But also, he came in, he's ready to learn. He's ready to work. I like him."

Aiyuk has done his homework on Charvarius Ward

Aiyuk admitted to doing some homework on the 49ers' biggest free-agent signing, Charvarius Ward, knowing that he would have to face the cornerback in practices.

"I'm excited about him," Aiyuk said. "I'm excited not only to go up against him but to have him on our defense and watch him go after receivers. I've already watched him go. I've watched a lot of his stuff already so far. I got to play [against] him a little bit last season when we played Kansas City in the preseason game, so I know him a little bit. But definitely excited to have him on our team. Definitely excited to get better going up against him and all our DBs. We have a great DB room."

Aiyuk added this of Ward: "He's a good corner."

Jimmie Ward the villain

Jimmie Ward is typically one of the more honest and open players who step up to the podium. Fans are well aware that the talented safety isn't afraid to speak his mind. He often proves that during his Q&A sessions on Instagram.

Ward is confident. He believes he is one of the best safeties in the league despite lacking league accolades like Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections. Ward feels like he has an idea why those honors have never come.

"Pro Bowl? Good luck," Ward told reporters. "Ever since I did an interview with Grant [Cohn of Sports Illustrated], talking that [expletive] on Instagram, good luck. I'm not very likable. I understand I'm the villain now. They can't turn me into the villain. I'm already the villain. But I'm a great guy, on and off the field. I'll just talk my [expletive] because I'm going to back it up."

Hints about Alex Mack

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said he has a pretty good idea which way veteran center Alex Mack is leaning. Will he play in his 14th NFL season or opt to call it a career and retire?

"I'm going to leave that up to Alex, but I've got a pretty good idea," Shanahan responded. "I think you guys do too."

Mack remains overseas after getting married this offseason. George Kittle was among the attendees at the wedding and asked if the celebration had more of a "retirement feel" to it, prompting laughter from the tight end and other reporters.

"We'll see what happens," Kittle responded. "If he wants to retire, he deserves to retire. He's had a hell of a career—All-Decade, 13 seasons. But we'd love to have him back, from just being a leader to being an absolute character and a pretty damn good football player. We'd love to have him back, but again, he deserves the right to retire if he wants to. But I don't really want him to, so Alex, please [don't]."

Kittle's newest tattoo

Kittle has a new tattoo on his right hand and was asked about it.

"[It's] Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes," Kittle shared. "It's my favorite comic. Also, just wanted to break into the hand-tatt game because now I can get tattoos wherever I want. ... I'm going to avoid the neck and the face for now. Who knows?"

Aaron Banks the starter?

Aaron Banks is a candidate to grab a starting guard spot, and the 49ers' head coach was asked what he wants to see from the offensive lineman during OTAs.

"Hopefully, he can stay healthy through this and get work in nine days," Shanahan responded. "With us not going against each other as much right now, it's so important on the drills they set up to go against each other because we're trying to simulate football the best we can. Hopefully, we'll be able to do that a little bit more as we get going, but just to be able to have no setbacks, go through it healthy, and when he leaves here, to be in a great position to come back in 40 days and try to get a starting job."

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