Jimmie Ward Draws Tough Assignment In 49ers Return

San Francisco 49ers, Jimmie Ward

Getty Jimmie Ward attempting to tackle Travis Kelce.

After breaking his hand mere snaps into the San Francisco 49ers‘ Week 5 win over the Carolina Panthers, Jimmie Ward has officially returned to practice ahead of Week 7. Though he’s been forced to wear a club over his left hand to protect his surgically repaired appendage, Ward was on the field with his teammates ahead of their Super Bowl LIV rematch and remains likely to return to the field in Week 7, as Kyle Shanahan told reporters during his Wednesday media availability session, as transcribed by 49ers Webzone.

“We’re just going to see how it goes out there with his cast, and how he feels doing it, and what he can get away with, and be safe with, and still perform. So we’ll see how it goes,” Shanahan said.

Jimmie Ward Has To Live Up To His Words In Week 7

After notoriously declaring that he’s “looking forward to that matchup with Kelce. Please, somebody, go and tell him I said it. I’m looking forward (to it). I can’t wait. I can’t wait until that matchup,” during an Instagram live session back in February, Ward was asked about his Week 7 showdown against Jason Kelce’s brother and if he’ll have to eat his words considering his compromised status, as per NBC Sports Bay Area.

“I’ve been talking a lot of smack, too, so it’s like, ‘Dang,’” Ward said. “Them boys are going to smell blood in the water. I’m going to be out there fighting. Sink or swim. … Them boys kept the receipts.”

“He’s a great tight end,” Ward added. “He’s the best in the league right now. I always root for my guy Kittle. But as you see, Kelce is out there catching more balls.”

Unnecessary George Kittle slander aside, it’s hard to argue with Ward’s assessment; through six weeks, Kelce has the most receptions of any tight end, is tied for the most receiving yards among tight ends with Mark Andrews, and has the most receiving touchdowns of any player in the NFL regardless of position. If the 49ers are going to end up on the right side of the .500 mark heading into Week 8, slowing down Kelce is going to be priority number one for DeMeco Ryans and company.

Travis Kelce Has Had The San Francisco 49ers’ Number

Since entering the NFL as a third-round pick in 2013, Kelce has faced off against the 49ers three times, once in Week 5 of 2014, again in Week 3 of 2018, and most recently in Super Bowl LIV.

Though his first game wasn’t all that impressive, securing two catches for 15 yards and a touchdown, since that fateful day in October, Kelce has been far more effective, picking up 114 yards on eight receptions in 2018 before famously catching all six of the passes thrown his way in 2020’s Super Bowl for 43 yards and a momentum-stealing touchdown in the fourth quarter that began Kansas City’s eventual comeback. Averaging 75.8 yards and 1.16 touchdowns per game so far in 2022, Kelce has surpassed the 100-yard mark on two occasions, including in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills in a 20-24 loss.

Needless to say, Ward is going to have his hand full in Week 7, as Kelce is a darn good offensive weapon that can, at best, be contained.

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