The San Francisco 49ers knew that they had a need in the secondary. There was some talk that they would trade up to take a corner but at the end of the day, they stayed put and selected free safety Jimmie Ward from Northern Illinois.
Ward is a rangy safety that was ranked pretty highly by various draft analysts. I personally had him as the fourth best safety behind Deone Bucannon, Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. He is the purest free safety out of the above mentioned names.
There was a buzz that generated about Jimmie Ward at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. I remember talking to the 49ers Midwest regional scout and he told me how he was very interested in Ward.
The 49ers will be able to rely on Ward to sure up the secondary. He will compete for the nickel spot right away.
That is due in large part to his ability to cover like a cornerback. He and Eric Reid will cover a lot of ground from the safety position.
Ward isn’t a big hitter but he will make plenty of tackles. He plays very physical despite his smaller frame. There were plenty of times that he played in the box in the Northern Illinois defense.
This pick may not be the big name pick that many wanted but Jimmy Ward is a future starter for the 49ers.