DeMeco Ryans Is ‘Excited’ About The 49ers’ Reinforced Secondary

Jimmie Ward, San Francisco 49ers

Getty Jimmie Ward celebrating for the San Francisco 49ers.

After starting out the 2022 NFL season with a pair key starters, Jimmie Ward and Jason Verrett, on injured reserve and the PUP list, respectively, the San Francisco 49ers are getting some much-needed reinforcements heading into Week 5, as the team has activated the practice windows on both players moving forward. While these decisions don’t automatically signify that the duo will be good to go in Week 5, as the team has 21 days to decide on when to activate each player, considering Willie Snead IV was released on Tuesday, opening up a spot on the active roster, it shouldn’t be too surprising if one of both are on the field versus the Carolina Panthers in some capacity.

When asked about how the returns of Ward and Verrett impact his defensive scheme, especially with the secondary playing incredibly well, DeMeco Ryans detailed to reporters how he plans to reincorporate the former starters.

“Yeah, for anyone, I think it’s been a long time since those guys played football, so it’s just a matter of getting them back integrated to things, you know,” Ryans said. “It’s one thing to be in meeting rooms but to get back out on the grass and do things, we’ll just see where those guys are as they continue to go along. But, you know, first things first and foremost, we’re just excited to have them out and as they progress we’ll see where they fit in when that time comes for us.”

The San Francisco 49ers Have Exceptional Depth In Their Secondary

When asked if the 49ers will be able to keep their current staring safeties, Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson, on the field once Ward returns, Ryans described how opposing personnel will affect his game plan, not the rigid design of his scheme.

“We’ll see whatever it calls for that particular week, you know, whoever we can use,” Ryans relayed with a smile. “When you get good players, Jimmie Ward who has been a starter for us, so however we can see fit to make it work with the guys we have, we will make it work.”

Considering Hufanga and Gipson currently rank second and third, respectively, in defensive grade according to Pro Football Focus, keeping the duo involved once Ward returns would be in the team’s best interest, especially with Azeez Al-Shaair on IR.

DeMeco Ryans Is Incredibly High On Talanoa Hufanga

Later in the media availability session, Ryans commented on the matter further, specifically how the elevation of Hufanga from a promising second-year starter to one of the best safeties in the NFL regardless of experience. 

“I talk every week about Huf and the questions that come up about him; it’s always about the preparation throughout the week and that’s where he sets himself apart,” Ryan said. “I think I’ve said it before and you see it on that particular play right? He’s able to not just be a robot out there; we want our guys to be football players, and instinctually, when you’re able to see something and trigger on it, that’s what makes you a special player. Some guys can see something but say ‘oh I’ve got to stick to my rules and just be a robot’ he’s not a robot on the field and that’s what allows him to stick out, to make the plays he’s made. That’s what’s allowed him to stick out and become one of the best safeties in the league right now because because of his instincts and because he’s not scared to go make a play when it calls for him to go make a play.”

Considering folks outside of the organization, including player-turned NBC Sports broadcaster Donte Whitner, have already declared Hufanga the best safety in the NFL, it’s safe to say Ryans’ confidence in the 22-year-old is well placed.

Read More