Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Which contract has the most value for the 49ers in 2022?

Rohan Chakravarthi
Jul 4, 2022 at 12:30 PM--

With top-tier talent at several positions for the San Francisco 49ers, it isn't a surprise that the organization holds several of the highest-paying contracts in the NFL.

However, to maintain their roster alongside those top-of-the-market deals, the 49ers also have several "value" contracts on their roster, which has allowed them to foster a competitive team over the past couple of seasons.

Which contract is the best value for the 49ers in 2022?

PFF conducted their annual "Every NFC team's best contract" list, examining the best-value deal for every NFC team ahead of the 2022 NFL season.

Last season, for the 49ers, it was veteran cornerback Jason Verrett, who re-signed with the organization on a one-year, $5.5 million deal following his stellar 2020 season, one of only two seasons in his career that he did not end the season on IR.

Unfortunately, Verrett's injury issues continued as he suffered a torn ACL in Week 1, causing him to miss the entire 2021 season. The 31-year-old corner re-signed with the organization on a one-year deal this offseason.

This year, once again, the player is a vital member of the secondary, as PFF anointed defensive back Jimmie Ward as the 49ers' best-value contract for the 2022 season.

Ward, entering his age 31 season, is in the final year of his three-year, $28.5 million extension that he signed in 2020, and has been the enforcer for the San Francisco defense, both in the run game and in coverage.

"Ward has been arguably the most reliable run-defending safety in the NFL since signing this extension back in 2020, with his 85.9 run-defense grade ranking fifth at the position on top of earning back-to-back 90.0-plus tackling grades. Ward has earned a negative grade on just 1.4% of his run-defense snaps over the past two seasons, the top mark among safeties, with zero missed tackles, per PFF charting."

"He tends to play deeper than some of the safeties we'd associate with stout run defense who line up closer to the line of scrimmage, so we're not saying he's the best down-for-down run-defending safety necessarily, but when he has an opportunity to make a play on the ball carrier, he makes it almost every single time."

"In coverage, Ward's 79.8 grade across the past two seasons ranks 18th. He's a model of consistency on the backend and has played a huge role in the 49ers' secondary amid a ton of turnover at the cornerback positions in recent years."

Given his strong play, Ward could be an extension candidate prior to the season, potentially lowering his $12.94 million cap hit for 2022, a move that could be necessary if the 49ers hold on to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

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