No. 4: 49ers Safety Jimmie Ward
Like Jaquiski Tartt, and even to a bigger extent, Jimmie Ward does a lot of little things on the back end of the defense that wind up providing major dividends.
Many of which don’t get noticed or show up on the stat sheet.
Also like Tartt, Ward has stayed healthy this season, too. And while the interceptions continue to elude Ward, not having recorded a pick since 2016, his ability to perform eraser-like duties is a major reason why the Niners are still allowing just 6 yards per pass attempt.
Considering the injuries and shortages at cornerback, this is noteworthy.
Pro Football Focus is recognizing Ward, too, with a quality 69.2 overall grade on the season, highest within San Francisco’s secondary and a number that suggests he’s making up for the defensive concerns directly in front of him.
True, Ward’s 19 tackles and one pass broken up don’t suggest much. But those numbers also don’t tell the whole story.
The 49ers defense is notably better with Ward on the field than without him.