San Francisco 49ers: 5 Takeaways from 2016 OTA Sessions
Jimmie Ward: Future Starting Cornerback?
Ward has had a strong start to the OTA sessions. He has spent considerable time at the right CB position opposite Tramaine Brock on the first-team defense.
O’Neil has had only praise for Ward so far, as he stated to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area:
“I know he’s one of our best 11. That I do know. We’re trying to find ways to get our best 11 on the field. So far what he’s shown now on the practice field, I’m confident he could be out there (at cornerback).”
Who will start opposite Brock this season has been an open question. The team is not short of options – you throw in the mix of Ward, Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser, Kenneth Acker, Rashard Robinson and Prince Charles Iworah and their is no shortage of depth (note: Will Redmond is still rehabbing from his torn ACL).
But the man who has so far taken the bull by the horns has been Ward. Going into his fourth NFL season, his future is extremely bright. What he brings to the position is a perfect combination of speed and physicality, as Maiocco further notes:
"Ward went onto the practice field and lined up at right cornerback with the first-team defense, and looked very good. He’s got the speed to run with anyone. He’s physical. He made the best play of the day when had a diving breakup of a Blaine Gabbert pass intended for Quinton Patton."
If the team can have it’s starting CBs decided by minicamp, this is a bonus and these guys can practice and practice with full confidence. This isn’t a knock on the other players, but they will just have to lift their games to the next level.
Having quality depth is a nice problem to have, as their are several wide receivers in the NFC West who the Niners CBs need to be able to cover.
Next: Who's leading the wide receiver race?