Jamie Ward played safety in college, but is built more like a cornerback and could feasibly make that transition. The 49ers have a much greater need at cornerback than safety, currently, but Ward provides depth at both. Let’s take a look at some of the aspects surrounding this pick.
Ward fills a need, big time. He has great innate ball skills and is not afraid to come up and hit someone over the middle. His physical style of play matches well with the NFC West opponents. His 38″ jump should help with his lack of height.
He is pretty slight. At only 5-11 (generously) and 193 pounds, Ward will not be striking fear into anyone with his size as a safety–which is why it seems more likely that he will end up as a corner. Even 49ers.com talks about Jamie Ward as a “Defensive Back” and not a safety.
Bradley Roby was still available when the 49ers drafted him, and went the next pick to the Broncos. Reminiscent of two years ago, the 49ers went with a seemingly lesser player at a position in need, according to the majority of draft pundits, and frustrated a lot of the fan base. How each player will pan out is yet to be determined, but something must have stood out to them about Jamie Ward that was enough to convince them to draft him relatively high.
What about a trade?
The 49ers never had a good opportunity for a trade. Neither Justin Gilbert nor Odell Beckham Jr fell to a spot that the 49ers could reasonably get to without mortgaging their entire draft. Thus, the 49ers sat put.
The 49ers seemingly could have traded down, though, as the Seahawks did. The compensation the Seahawks got, though, was pretty pitiful (an extra fourth-round pick) and thus not worthwhile. The 49ers made a good decision staying where they were. As for Jamie Ward, time will tell, but I kind of like the pick. I think his demeanor and style of play will help a secondary that has now lost its two biggest hitters and strongest personalities. Ward will bring that swagger back–just hopefully in a way that does not get a bunch of penalties.