Niners' Jimmie Ward Is Proving His Worth

Often-injured free safety has given the secondary a playmaker at the position in victories over the Rams and Browns

Jimmie Ward’s list of injuries and missed games is long.

Since being drafted by the 49ers in the first round in 2014, Ward has played a full season just once, in 2015. The Niners safety missed seven games in 2018, nine in 2017, five in 2016 and eight as a rookie. And, he’s played just two games this season.

But the Niners always have liked Ward’s talent and versatility, and now that he’s back in the lineup at free safety he’s proving his worth.

In the victory over the Rams this past Sunday, Ward – making his second straight start after being out with a broken finger – made several key places, including a fourth-down pass breakup.

Ward didn’t allow a completion on any of the three passes he was covering, and made two pass breakups in the fourth quarter. The analytic website Pro Football Focus gave him a terrific grade of 89.8 for the game.

The 49ers decided to retain Ward this offseason, giving him a new one-year deal. Now he’s helping solidify what is turning out to be an effective secondary.

"Jimmie’s a dog out there," head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters after Sunday’s game. "We love Jimmie. I would wear his jersey on the sideline if I could. I love his mentality. I love watching him play.

"He’s had some unfortunate things with just not being able to stay healthy. When he is healthy, he’s one of the better players. You guys see what he does. He plays extremely physical out there. He’s not scared of anything. He’s not scared to fail. He challenges guys in coverage. It’s been fun having him out there these two weeks."

The 5-0 49ers will play at 1-5 Washington Sunday. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m.

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