Keep: Defensive Back Jimmie Ward
Early in 2019, fans were likely more than just a bit frustrated the 49ers elected to re-sign defensive back Jimmie Ward, the team’s top pick from the 2014 NFL Draft, after Ward’s career had been majorly impacted by injuries and inconsistency.
Those injuries carried over into training camp, too, where Ward dealt with a broken collarbone among other setbacks.
The thing, though, is Ward has been one of San Francisco’s best defensive contributors this season. He’s stayed healthy, too, providing arguably the most important and crucial services defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s secondary.
To spike the reason why the Niners should consider retaining him, Pro Football Focus has Ward ranked the No. 3 overall safety in the league through 13 weeks, posting an exceptional 89.1 overall grade.
That number is higher than the New York Jets’ Jamal Adams (87.7) and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ (83.2).
It’s anyone’s guess whether or not Ward’s efforts this season, amid the No. 1-ranked 49ers pass defense, have priced him out of San Francisco’s range this offseason. Yet John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan both seem to be enamored with Ward, so one has to figure they’ll make him a top re-sign priority.