49ers worst NFL free agency move No. 3: Choosing Charvarius Ward over J.C. Jackson
OK, so San Francisco landing Charvarius Ward was a great move, and he’ll immediately upgrade what was a sizable weakness for the defense a season ago. Don’t overlook that.
However, if the 49ers were willing to spend just a shade more in NFL free agency, they likely could have had the No. 1 cornerback available on the market, now-Los Angeles Chargers Pro Bowl corner J.C. Jackson, whose $16.5 million annual average isn’t exorbitantly more expensive than the $13.5 million annual average Ward will be receiving.
Interceptions and pass breakups aren’t everything, of course. But there’s a substantial difference between Ward and the slightly more-expensive Jackson. Over the last two seasons, Ward recorded two interceptions and 16 pass breakups, where as Jackson had 17 during that span and led the entire league with 23 passes broken up a year ago after recording 14 the year prior.
No one-year anomalies on Jackson’s part there.
It’s anyone’s guess whether or not the Niners were heavily in on Jackson and if his asking price was just a shade above what John Lynch and Co. budgeted.
If it wasn’t, though, one can fairly wonder if San Francisco would have been better off upgrading its defense, one which has struggled at generating interceptions in recent years, with Jackson instead of Ward.