No. 1: Defensive Back Jimmie Ward
Somewhat lost in the discussion on how to replace Ahkello Witherspoon for the short term is the fact veteran defensive back Jimmie Ward has plenty of experience playing boundary cornerback. And in the current 49ers defensive scheme, too.
Ward started off here in 2017 and wasn’t particularly great, sure. But he also played on the outside his second year in the NFL, 2015, and it might have been his best season as a pro.
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At least according to Pro Football Focus, which gave Ward a solid 72.3 overall grade that year.
Ward has missed the Niners’ last two games, due to a finger injury. And San Francisco has something of a small logjam at free safety, where Ward was slated to start this season. Earlier this spring, the 49ers moved former cornerback Tarvarius Moore back to free safety, which was his natural collegiate position.
There’s a thought Moore could bounce back to corner. But doing so could wind up stunting the second-year pro’s growth.
Ward, who is around only on a one-year deal, has far more experience on the outside anyway. And it might be the route Kyle Shanahan takes, as soon as Ward is ready to go again.
Meanwhile, the 49ers have two weeks to figure out how to make up for Witherspoon’s absence.