Ward was set to make a base salary of $8.4 million resulting in a cap hit of over $10.9 million this year. But, the team has converted a significant amount of his base salary into a signing bonus. The move ultimately frees up close to $5.85 million in cap space which brings the new cap total to $7.3 million.
The Niners signed Ward to a three-year, $28.5 million deal last offseason. He enters this season as of the 49ers’ seven team captains.
San Francisco originally selected Ward out of Northern Illinois with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He registered 73 tackles, four passes defensed, and two forced fumbles through 14 games last fall.
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Ward Is Wearing C” on His Jersey for the First Time
The veteran safety has truly established himself in the league over the last few years and was chosen to be a captain for the first time in his career heading into the 2021 season.
Niner’s defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans explained why Ward earned finally the honor.
“With Jimmie, he’s really stepped up and done a great job of leading,” Ryans said via Yahoo Sports. “And I’m excited for Jimmie to be a captain. The guys love it, everybody loves it when Jimmie brings the team up and he talks to the team. He always has a positive message, always has an encouraging message to the team and our guys feed off of Jimmie’s energy that he brings.”
But what exactly qualifies as a leading on the field in Ryans’ eyes?
“I think players, first and foremost, lead by what you do on the field. When you’re out there, you’re doing what you’re supposed to be, you’re where you’re supposed to be, you’re accountable to your teammates, and guys look at you as a leader and guys are looking to follow you.”
49ers vs. Lions Preview
The Niners, who are back with their 2019 Super Bowl team, are set to kick off the season with a Week 1 matchup against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Following a disastrous 2020 season derailed by COVID-19 and never-ending injuries, several key starters are set to return for San Fran including, star tight end George Kittle, starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and defensive ends Nick Bosa and Dee Ford.
In Detroit, they made some notable changes and hired Dan Campbell as a first-year head coach. They also traded Matthew Stafford away to the Los Angeles Rams for quarterback Jared Goff, a former No. 1 overall draft pick. But the Niners have plenty of experience facing Goff when he was at the Rams, so their defense should know what to expect. For Detroits’ rebuilding defense, however, they likely won’t know what to do with the Niners’ problematic trio of Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and Kittle.
Nonetheless, the 49ers’ offense should have themselves a field day against a Lions’ defense that allowed 419.8 yards a game last season, which put them dead-last in the NFL.
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