The 49ers’ Week 15 win over the Seahawks revealed a lot of things, but Charvarius Ward shutting down D.K. Metcalf is a massive positive for the Niners.
At the very end of the 2019 regular season, the San Francisco 49ers had more than just a tough time shutting down Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf in what turned into a pinnacle game for either team to win the NFC West.
Sure, yes, All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman was on the roster. Yet the Niners were still going back and forth between corners Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon on the other side.
San Francisco won that game, of course, and it also won another division-clinching bout on the road against the Hawks in Week 15 of the 2022 season, too, albeit the defensive backfield looks a lot different now.
A prime reason is veteran cornerback Charvarius Ward.
Yes, Ward has been playing at a Pro Bowl level in his first year with the 49ers after joining in free agency last offseason from the Kansas City Chiefs. But the casual fan got the first-class glimpse at the difference Ward is making for the Niners secondary, based solely on his one-on-one matchup against Metcalf in Week 15 on Thursday Night Football.
Simply put, Ward was excellent.
49ers beating Seahawks was heavily influenced by Charvarius Ward
Yes, Ward scooped up a loose fumble during the game that was knocked free by linebacker Dre Greenlaw, and it was returned 40 yards and nearly for a touchdown.
A splash play, yes. But the real contribution by Ward was shutting down Metcalf, who had a combined 198 yards and two touchdowns the previous two games before San Francisco came to town.
OK, so Metcalf recorded seven catches in the game for 55 yards, but they were relatively inconsequential. And, according to Pro Football Focus, Ward gave up only five receptions for 44 yards anyway while playing tight press-man coverage on Metcalf the entire time.
It was something the Amazon Prime broadcast crew noticed during the Thursday night broadcast. And Next Gen Stats didn’t mind touting Ward’s performance either:
Unfortunately, Ward had to enter the concussion protocol after the game. But that kind of performance is exactly why the 49ers didn’t mind dishing out a three-year, $40.5 million contract in free agency last offseason.
Simply put, it’s paying off.
The Niners’ secondary isn’t a weakness any longer. And while there have been injuries and issues elsewhere throughout the defensive backfield, Ward putting up performances similar to the one he did against Metcalf is a massive relief.
A relief San Francisco will need during its upcoming playoff push with Ward lining up opposite opposing teams’ best wide receivers.