Captain’s Fiery Message for 49ers: ‘We’ve Gotta Prove That S*** Again’

Jimmie Ward

Getty Jimme Ward reacts to a defensive stop versus the Green Bay Packers during Week 3 of the 2021 season.

He may not be a household name in the NFL, or even the most popular member of the San Francisco 49ers.

But veteran safety Jimmie Ward has proven this in his time in the Bay Area: When the defensive captain talks, expect something vulgar, but also expect everyone in the room to listen to what he has to say.

And there was one fiery message he delivered to the defense when talking to the Bay Area media on Tuesday, May 24 following the first open practice of the 2022 Organized Team Activities (OTA) period.

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‘We’ve Gotta Prove That S*** Again’

Last season, Ward played on a 49ers defense that was a key cog in their run to the NFC title game.

From the moment the 49ers routed the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams 31-10 on Monday Night Football on November 15 — also the night Ward snatched two interceptions including a pick six — the 49ers defense swung a ferocious momentum. Ward and the 49ers only allowed more than 25 points twice during their 9-3 finish…far different from the five games that saw teams score higher than 25 during their 3-5 start.

The sacks piled up. So did the crucial takeaways. But Ward let it be known it’s not enough.

“We’re one of the best defenses in the league. Well, we’ve gotta prove that s*** again,” Ward told reporters.

This year’s defense features an array of new faces, especially in the secondary with Ward.

Making their first OTA appearance with the 49ers are top draft pick for S.F. Drake Jackson on the defensive line, free agent newcomers in the defensive trenches Hassan Ridgeway and Kemoko Turay, prized free agent cornerback signing Charvarius Ward and finally, rookie newcomers Tariq Castro-Fields and Samuel Womack.

But again, those new faces are heading to a 49ers facility where Ward is one of the top voices in the locker room and on the field…and has embraced one other title.

Ward the Critic & ‘The Villain’

While Ward is a strong and verbose voice during 49er practices and games, he’s often his own worst critic.

“I feel like I left a lot of plays on the field,” Ward said. “I felt like I should’ve been an All-Pro. I felt like there were enough plays that I could’ve made in the 2021 season to go All-Pro, but I didn’t make all of my plays. So there’s a lot of stuff, but I’ll continue to sharpen my pencil and get better.”

He pointed out two plays in particular, which occurred in the first two games of the season.

Versus the Detroit Lions in the season opener: “Every time I felt I could make the tackle. I don’t miss many. But if I can attack the ball and get the ball more with my tackling skills, hands down (I’ll be the) best safety in the league.” One play Ward referred to is below against D’Andre Swift:

Against the Philadelphia Eagles the following week: “Jalen Hurts was trying to throw me one. He wanted to throw me one, bad. I just didn’t execute and make the big play.”

Ward has garnered the respect of his teammates, though, for responding to bad moments and leading the defense afterwards. But even after 401 career tackles, 10 for a loss and four career interceptions per Pro Football Reference, Ward still has a hunger for more accolades.

“I’m definitely hungry for more,” Ward said. “There’s a lot of things that go into just being a professional football (player). Sometimes guys get drafted into the right scheme and right position. But that wasn’t my case. I had to persevere through my adversity and it just makes me who I am. I’ve been through adversity all my life, and it’s probably why I get the respect (from others).”

He’s also embraced this title that goes with his trash-talking side to teammates including Trey Lance: The villain.

“I’m not very likable. I understand I’m the villain now so they can’t turn me into the villain. I’m already the villain. But I’m a great guy on and off the field. I’m gonna talk my s*** and I’m going to back it up,” Ward said.

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