Today, Niner Noise is going to look into the future and have some fun with who we project to be the top 10 most impactful team members for the San Francisco 49ers in the upcoming 2017 season. No. 1 could surprise you.
This top-10 list will ascend through the ranks of the members of the 2017 San Francisco 49ers projecting who could prove to be the biggest difference makers week in and week out in the upcoming season.
Instead of just naming the most popular new players or a position that always holds a level of importance, we will rank by the potential of standout status.
The importance of the team members to the new schemes and resulting projected production will be the main deciding factor in this list, followed by an explanation.
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FS Jimmie Ward
With defensive back Jimmie Ward being moved to free safety in the new 4-3 under scheme, and the lack of movement in free agency or the draft to address the position, you have to assume that the new regime likes what it sees.
Ward attended Northern Illinois University from 2010-2013 and anchored the defense from the free safety position. He lead the team in tackles his final two years and earned two consecutive first-team All-MAC honors and a third-team All-American honor from the Associated Press.
His ballhawking and tackling skills were noticed by the 49ers, who selected him No.30 overall in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Since he joined San Francisco, Ward has been relegated to the nickel corner position. His time there has been marred by injury and scheme changes but not entirely wasted. He has proved to be an instinctual torpedo and excellent cover guy when he was on the field.
Whether he was covering a speedy slot receiver, blitzing or crashing in run support, Ward does not have much bad tape out there.
This new scheme demands a lot out of the safety positions and with everyone that was available through free agency and the draft the 49ers said a lot when they elected to move Ward there and pick up his fifth-year option.
If he is to stay healthy, we can expect him to blow up in this new system with a constant presence on the field just by doing what he always has done, play excellent football.