Jimmie Ward’s NFL career has hit a few bumps going into his second NFL season.
The 49ers’ surprising top draft pick in 2014, Ward – a safety from Northern Illinois – was projected as a slot/nickel cornerback by general manager Trent Baalke, and started his rookie season at that spot.
But his season ended after just eight games when he suffered a fractured foot. The resulting surgery and rehab also kept him out of most of the offseason team practices and delayed the start to his training camp participation.
Now Ward is back in uniform, practicing with the team as it gets set for its second exhibition game of the summer against the Cowboys Sunday night.
He began practicing Tuesday, with all of his work coming as a safety with the second- and third-team units, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.
It now appears that Ward is most likely to be used at safety and on special teams rather than at nickel corner, where Tramaine Brock – the team’s No. 1 cornerback – is likely to play when the 49ers face three-receiver sets.
Ward says he’s not worried about that. He’s just intent on working hard to get back in shape, catch up and start producing when he’s on the field – wherever he is.
“It’s football. If he can take the spot, he can have it,” Ward told Barrows, of Brock’s competition at nickel corner. “I’m going to have to fit my way in somewhere else.”