49ers: Jimmie Ward offers endorsement for Tarvarius Moore

Tarvarius Moore #33 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Tarvarius Moore #33 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

There’s a strong chance the San Francisco 49ers lose safety Jimmie Ward to NFL free agency, although the veteran endorsed third-year pro Tarvarius Moore.

According to veteran defensive back Jimmie Ward, the San Francisco 49ers already have a would-be replacement for him if he eventually leaves in NFL free agency this offseason.

Third-year defensive back Tarvarius Moore.

Ward made the suggestion Friday on his Instagram account:

"If you draft a safety in the first round, the two names y’all keep throwing up every other day .. just know you can’t use them how our [defensive coordinator] used me this past season,” Ward wrote. “Best bet is to draft a coverage safety in the later rounds to get a steal. Stick with [Tarvarius Moore] at safety if they don’t sign me back!"

The Niners currently have just over $13 million in available cap space this offseason. Ward, who enjoyed his best season as a pro in 2019, could command somewhere in the range of $8 million annually. Considering San Francisco is looking to re-sign defensive end Arik Armstead, while also exploring extensions for tight end George Kittle and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, it’s easy to see why re-signing Ward could be a tough proposition this offseason.

Moore, meanwhile, was the 49ers’ third-round NFL Draft selection from 2018. Initially, the Niners envisioned the 6-foot-2, 200-pound former-college free safety to play boundary cornerback, and he saw limited time in this role during his rookie season.

Yet Ward suffered a collarbone injury during offseason workouts in 2019, which opened up the door for Moore to see first-team reps during organized team activities and into training camp.

San Francisco handed Moore additional starting duties at free safety when Ward was dealing with a broken finger earlier in the year.

Yet Moore didn’t quite solidify the role early on, frequently taking bad angles on coverage assignments and showing the all-too-frequent growing pains many a young defensive back encounters upon transitioning from the college ranks to the pros. Despite the Niners essentially giving Moore every chance to secure the top role, Ward eventually took it back and stayed at free safety all the way through Super Bowl LIV.

Another year’s worth of development could ultimately give Moore enough to secure a starting free safety job in 2020.

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And if Ward eventually leaves for the open market, at least Moore will know he had the veteran’s approval for replacing him on San Francisco’s defensive backfield depth chart.