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Did the 49ers help Jimmie Ward by moving him to cornerback?

Feb 24, 2023 at 11:15 AM--

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Soon-to-be free agent Jimmie Ward is entering season ten of his NFL career. The question is, What position does Ward want to play? Is it his natural position at safety, which he made clear on Instagram, or will it be at the cornerback position, where he played in what might be his final season with the 49ers?

"I feel like I made plays wherever they put me, and I dealt with injuries all throughout my career, and I bounced back -- resilience at its finest," Ward said last month. "I proved a lot of doubters wrong. I'm still going to prove more doubters wrong. It's just who I am as a person."

Ward began the 2022 season on injured reserve due to a grade two hamstring strain. He returned in Week 5 and fractured his hand on a special teams play. That sidelined him for a few more weeks.

Upon Ward's return, the defensive back had to decide whether to play at a new position or ride the bench. The 49ers liked the play from the veteran safety Tashaun Gipson, and coach Shanahan wanted Ward to slide to the nickel corner position.

According to Pro Football Focus, Ward completed the 2022 season with 440 snaps played at nickel. He allowed 57 receptions on 70 targets for 440 receiving yards. Ward recorded 41 tackles, 13 assists, five missed tackles, 19 stops, three interceptions, and a forced fumble while allowing four touchdowns. His numbers may not overly impress anyone when it comes to being a potential top corner, but he was efficient on the football field.

Perhaps the 49ers changing Ward's position helped him in the long run. The franchise tag on safeties in 2023 is approximately $14.5 million. The franchise tag on a cornerback is roughly $18 million, almost $4 million more. When Ward hits free agency, will it be as a safety or a cornerback? The vast majority of his snaps came at cornerback. Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, cornerback would be his position.

Of course, it has been reported that it is unlikely the 49ers will utilize the franchise tag at all this offseason, so that may not matter. Ward is almost sure to hit free agency, and his role on a new team would be up to him and his new coach. But if a team is paying him cornerback money, he might be willing to continue in that role.
  • Written by:
    Wayne Breezie is a 49ers content creator. He had his first guest appearance on Ronbosports in 2012. He began writing for a Facebook group called the League of the 49ers. Next, he began writing for Nothing But Niners in 2017. In 2018, Wayne Breezie made his debut on YouTube’s Nothing But Niners show. In 2019, he started his podcast called Nitty Gritty Niners. After putting the pen down for several years, Breezie saw an opportunity to write for His first published article was in January of 2022 with 49ersCap, and he currently writes and produces weekly podcasts.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

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