Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports


PFF identifies 49ers’ secret superstar entering 2022 season

Jul 27, 2022 at 8:49 AM--


Earlier this month, our Rohan Chakravarthi named safety Jimmie Ward as the San Francisco 49ers' most underrated player. It sounds like Pro Football Focus agrees. Sam Monson of the analytics site recently identified "secret superstars" for all 32 NFL teams, naming Ward as the player for the Niners.

"Finding a secret superstar for the 49ers is challenging, and Ward isn't exactly an unknown quantity," wrote Monson, "but he is a consistently productive part of that defense despite the attention typically shifting elsewhere."

Ward was the target of criticism early in his career as he struggled with injuries. However, he has started at least 13 games in each of his last three seasons and started 16 games in 2021. Ward tallied a career-high 77 tackles, adding two interceptions, a touchdown, and six passes defensed to his stat line last season. His interceptions in 2021 were his first since 2016.

"Ward has earned an overall PFF grade of at least 73.5 in each of the past three seasons, with 13 pass breakups over that time despite a lack of interceptions," Monson continued. "Ward has lined up in the slot at least 200 times in each of the past two years in addition to free and strong safety, bringing important versatility to the secondary."

Ward's 74.8 overall Pro Football Focus grade last season was the second-highest of his career (85.0 in 2019), while his 90.2 run-defense grade and 91.3 tackling grade were career-highs.



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