49ers roster: 5 Niners who’ve shouldered the load through Week 11

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Jimmie Ward, Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jimmie Ward (1) and wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers have been inconsistent over their first 10 games of 2021, but these five players have been constant and have shouldered the load the most.

It’s amazing just how much of an up-and-down season the San Francisco 49ers have had in 2021.

The highs of a two-game win streak to open things up this year, followed by a four-game losing streak, then three wins out of four following that.

All of this has led to a 5-5 record after Week 11’s beatdown of the Jacksonville Jaguars, which hopefully suggests the Niners are back on the upswing and heading towards a playoff berth, but it also opens up the door to the notion head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad is, well… inconsistent.

Inconsistency is usually the worst thing in the NFL, but that doesn’t automatically mean every San Francisco player has been inconsistent.

In fact, these five 49ers players have been the mark of consistency in 2021, and as a result, they’ve shouldered the load for the team this deep into the season.

 

No. 5: 49ers Safety Jimmie Ward

The stat-geek analysts out there may not see veteran safety Jimmie Ward as a key cog in the Niners defense, but the truth of the matter is he does so much to keep this part of the ball performing at standard.

“The Eraser,” as he’s known, does plenty with his positioning to help cover up any mistakes San Francisco’s cornerbacks may make in front of him, as well as doubling down to help over the slot. And while the turnovers didn’t arrive until Week 10 against the Los Angeles Rams (he hadn’t had an interception since 2016), Ward was nevertheless a vital component to any success the 49ers could have within the secondary.

Case in point, when Ward was out for the Week 9 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the Niners defense surrendered 274 pass yards to a backup-quarterback Colt McCoy-led offense.

Pro Football Focus has given Ward game grades of 68.2 or higher the last four weeks, and he hasn’t had a sub-60 grade yet this season, the only mark on his résumé this season was missing that Cardinals game with a minor injury.

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