Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY

Kyle Shanahan, DeMeco Ryans rave about new 49ers CB Charvarius Ward: ‘He’s been better than advertised’

Jun 15, 2022 at 1:46 PM--

It's way too early to say for sure if Charvarius Ward will be worth the three-year, $40.5 million free-agent contract the San Francisco 49ers signed him to in March, but so far they couldn't be happier with what they've seen.

Ward projects to be a starting cornerback for the 49ers this year and beyond after playing his first four NFL seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans spoke at length about Ward during the team's recent State of the Franchise event and explained why they like what they've seen in his short time in the Bay Area and why they're excited to have the 26-year-old corner aboard.

"The guy we've gotten to know here -- we've been with him here the last six weeks -- he's been better than advertised," Shanahan said. "He works his tail off. He's a good person. I think he has a lot more aspirations than just being a high-paid starting corner in this league."

The 49ers got to know Ward well when they faced the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV in February 2020 and certainly gave him a much longer look before deciding to pursue him in free agency. For Shanahan, the thing that stood out was Ward's ability to cover, which was the most important box to check before handing him an eight-figure contract.

"He's been great," Shanahan said. "For me, when I watch corners, all I see is man-to-man because I think from a receiver standpoint, I just think of, 'Who can we not get open against?' There's so much more to it than that -- all the zone we play, replacing and tackling and stuff like that -- but I want to see a corner who can cover. And if he can't, you do not pay for him. And he can cover.

"No one can do it forever on their own. You need a pass rush, you need everything. But I'm really excited to have a guy here that I truly believe is wired to cover guys."

Ryans also praised Ward's ability to cover while raving about his mindset, which he believes is where it needs to be for Ward to be a standout in the NFL.

"The first thing about Charvarius is his confidence," Ryans said. "He's a confident guy. If you play the corner position, you're going to be on an island a lot. You're going to be in a lot of one-on-one situations. That's what everyone sees, but you have to have the right mindset to play that position. And that's the first thing that jumped out to me meeting the guy -- his confidence, his swagger that he has. And then watching his tape, the man-to-man cover skills are top-notch.

"So, for me, getting a guy like that who can protect us on the edges -- we know guys are going go at us, deep balls, whatever that may be -- now it gives me confidence to have a guy I know can go out there and he can stand up to compete against anyone."

Ward's experience is another significant positive for Ryans. Ward played in 56 regular-season games in his four seasons with the Chiefs, starting 43, while also playing in 11 playoff games (10 starts), two of which were Super Bowls. He totaled 222 tackles, four interceptions and 29 passes defensed over those four seasons and has spent his share of time covering high-end receivers.

"He's played against a lot of top talent in this league and he's done it at a really good level," Ryans said. "He's played in the biggest moment. He's played in a Super Bowl. He has Super Bowl experience. He's won a Super Bowl. So to add a guy like that with the knowledge, the experience he has, I couldn't have asked to get a better guy."

Ward has come a long way in his NFL career, which started after being signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State in 2018. Ward was traded to the Chiefs before the start of his rookie season, then surprisingly made his way into the starting lineup late in the year and held down that spot for the next three seasons before landing with the 49ers in March of 2022. Shanahan believes Ward is a player on the rise and will have his best NFL seasons while wearing a 49ers uniform.

"In our tenure here, we had Sherm (Richard Sherman), who played at a real high level and did some great things for us," Shanahan said. "But now to get a guy in here who I think can play for a number of years and who has that movement and stuff, to me it's going to get better each year. I thought last year was his best year, and I think he's just starting."
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