Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmie Ward jokes: I don’t think the 49ers defense needs me right now

Oct 5, 2022 at 3:42 PM--

Safety Jimmie Ward, one of the league's most underrated players, could be on the cusp of his return to the football field. The San Francisco 49ers opened the practice windows for him and cornerback Jason Verrett, and both were on the practice field with their teammates on Wednesday.

Verrett is in the final stages of his recovery from last season's ACL injury. Ward suffered a hamstring injury before the start of the season, landing on the injured reserve list. The severity of that injury surprised Ward.

"Because I walked off [the practice field]," Ward told reporters before Wednesday's practice. "I've had hammy [injuries]. I've had a lot of injuries before, but I've had hammies, of course. I didn't know it was as bad as the doctor told me it was. But I felt like the training staff did a great job with my rehab process, getting me back ready just to play."

In the meantime, the 49ers defense is playing some impressive football. The unit ranks second in the NFL in total yards allowed, second in passing yards allowed, second in rushing yards allowed, and first in points allowed. Much of that is due to superb play in the defensive backfield, including safeties Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson.

"He's played lights out," Ward said of Hufanga. "[Gipson] too. You've got to give him his flowers too. Both of them are playing lights out. Hopefully, they add me back in the rotation, but however they do it, I trust the coaching staff, and I'll be sitting on the sidelines looking pretty, just itching to hit somebody."

Before practice, head coach Kyle Shanahan noted that Ward and Verrett being suited up for this weekend's game against the Carolina Panthers is not out of the question.

"I'm very eager, but I don't think the defense needs me right now," Ward jokingly said. "... They don't need me. They can keep me clean for right now until they need me."

How has Verrett looked while trying to return to the field?

"He's looking good," Ward said. "He's looking like Jason."


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