Charvarius Ward has gotten used to this routine on the San Francisco 49ers: Taking on the biggest matchup problem in the passing game.
He’s already faced the best the NFC West has had to offer in Cooper Kupp, D.K. Metcalf and De’Andre Hopkins — none getting 100 yards or scoring any touchdowns on him. But now looming for “Mooney” on New Year’s Day? An even more decorated wide receiver with six Pro Bowls in tow in Davante Adams, which is now his second game versus the Las Vegas Raiders wideout. Ward is relishing the opportunity to take on Adams.
“It’s going to be a big matchup,” Ward said to reporters on Thursday, December 29. “Another opportunity for me to make a name for myself, have a good game and prove that I’m one of the best in the game at my position. That’s honestly what I feel like I need to do, ball against these good receivers.”
When Ward Began to Realize he can Match With the Best WR
This would’ve been a twice a year matchup had Ward stayed with the Kansas City Chiefs with Adams now in the AFC West.
But again, the two have met before: The November 7, 2021 game won by the Chiefs 13-7 when Ward was with the franchise — and Adams was still a Green Bay Packer.
Ward was targeted five times facing Adams per Pro Football Focus — and surrendered just one catch for 14 yards. Ward credits the middle of the season of when he started to realize he can match up with the best WR including Adams.
“Midseason last year in Kansas City, that’s when I started following the best receivers around every week,” Ward said. “That’s when I got some notoriety. Like, ‘Dang, this is a good cornerback.’ Now that I’m here, everybody knows they paid me to be CB1, so I feel like it’s expected now.”
And since then, the 49ers awarded him with a $40.5 million deal to lock up the WR1 each week. In 10 of 15 games, Ward has surrendered three catches or less his side during games per Pro Football Reference Advanced Stats. Recently, he faced a Washington Commanders team that featured 2022 Pro Bowler Terry McLaurin. Ward was tested twice and allowed one catch for 14 yards. Adams, though, presents much different tactics facing cornerbacks as Ward has noticed.
“He knows football, leverage, and releases,” Ward said. “At the top of the route he knows how to shake you. And when it’s time to catch the ball, he can make any catch, one hand, two hands.
“I just know his releases are just crazy,” Ward continued. “The way he releases off the ball. You can know a route he’s running and it’s still like damn, where’d he go? He’s really good at his craft.”
Brandon Aiyuk Responds to Instagram Comment Toward Adams
Meanwhile, Brandon Aiyuk playfully encouraged Adams to sit out…as a way to support his benched quarterback and longtime friend Derek Carr which was caught on Instagram.
Aiyuk, though, ended up with some fierce responses from Raider fans. He then responded to reporters about his IG comment, saying it was all in the name of fun.
“It was a little fun. I think people took it a whole different way,” Aiyuk said to reporters. “If you don’t have to play Davante Adams — I would love to not play Davante Adams. I’m trying to win a football game. If Davante Adams is not out there, I’m sure that would increase our chances by a lot.
“It was more a nod to Davante Adams, having some fun,” he continued. “But, you know, that’s Raiders fans for you.”