NFL: 49ers Strengthen Secondary in First Round
“With the 30th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select Jimmie Ward, safety, Northern Illinois University.”
Within a few minutes of this draft pick I received multiple text messages and tweets asking for my thoughts on the pick. At first I was hesitant to say that I liked the pick because my heart was set on the 49ers drafting Bradley Roby from Ohio State. Now it is safe to say that the 5’10”, 193 pound Ward will be a great fit for the 49ers defense. The 49ers run nickel package defensive schemes about 60% of the time and Ward is projected to be on the field as a cornerback for almost all of those plays.
Ward finished his collegiate career with 11 interceptions and 30 passes deflected. He also reached at least 100 tackles in two seasons. He finished with just 95 tackles his senior season, while picking off seven passes on the year. Ward will be called on to guard tight ends in coverage, but with his athleticism and versatility he will be called on to make run-stopping plays as well. Ward ran a 4.47 40-yard dash on a bad foot during the combine and had surgery on it soon thereafter.
The 49ers drafted a safety in the first round last year and turned him into a Pro-Bowl player so 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke knows what he is doing. Over time I have experienced many moments when his moves made next to zero sense to me, but each (and every) time Baalke’s moves have worked out in a positive way.
When you look at the list of first round draft picks selected by Baalke and Co. you’ll see why he is one of the best GMs in the league. Here is a list of the notable first round picks in the past 10 years for the 49ers: Alex Smith, Vernon Davis, Manny Lawson, Patrick Willis, Joe Staley, Michael Crabtree, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, Aldon Smith, and Eric Reid. Eight of those players listed are still members of the 49ers organization.
The 49ers addressed a need for a solid defensive back to join their defense. The seemed to have reached to grab Ward however as he was projected by many to be a mid-2nd round pick. Nonetheless, only time will tell if the pick of Jimmie Ward will be a good pick for the San Francisco 49ers.
ALSO: Check out Ward’s crazy one-handed INT against Toledo earlier this year below…