When the San Francisco 49ers revamped their secondary this off-season it was a time in which many veterans were let go. From SS Donte Whitner to CB Carlos Rogers and CB Tarell Brown the 49ers knew they had their work cut out for them if they wanted to maintain that stingy top five defense. So what do they do? They signed A-rated player SS Antoine Bethea while then drafting first-round pick (No.30) DB Jimmie Ward. Two players that have never don the red and gold, that will all change in 2014. And while both are acclimating themselves to the 3-4 cover-2 defensive scheme, both players are coming along just fine according to DC Vic Fangio.
Bethea spoke on Ward’s progress as he said, “Like a lot of guys say on the sidelines, he’s always around the ball.” A true ballhawk who has a knack for making the interception, Ward’s presence is already paying dividends. But make no mistake he will have some growing pains as should be expected. The cornerback position alone is one of the hardest positions to master and the slot can be even more difficult. From knowing where your help is to recognizing certain formations pre-snap, Ward will surely have his ups-and-downs and today was no different.
During individual drills, Ward was seen struggling one-on-one against WR David Reed. Reed ran a nice comeback route leaving Ward in the dust, as he bit on the double move. Then on his very next play, Ward tried to undercut the ball only to see the wide-receiver catch it and take it for a big gain. However, he did make some nice plays and had a few pass break-ups so I wouldn’t worry too much considering it’s only his second practice. A smart player with elite ball skills, I believe Ward will be just fine.
With training camp to continue tomorrow we will keep you updated on the latest as it unfolds.