Jimmie Ward Sounds Off on 49ers Future & Clarifies Position Change

Jimmie Ward

Getty Jimmie Ward pursues Davante Adams on January 1, 2023.

Perhaps Jimmie Ward has another run left in him on the football field with the San Francisco 49ers.

With the free agency market set to officially start on Wednesday, March 15, the unrestricted free agent safety and defensive captain for the 49ers sounded off on his 2023 future. He’s clarified he’s not ruling out a return.

“I didn’t say I’m leaving the Niners, man,” Ward said (h/t Tom Dierberger of NBC Sports Bay Area) on his Instagram page on Monday, March 6.

Ward was listed as the fifth-best free agent safety for this ’23 UFA class per Pro Football Focus. FanDuel also has Ward in the top 10, listing him as the No. 8 best free agent safety.

Is Ward in Communication With the 49ers’ Brass?

Many 49er fans and NFL analysts believe Ward, 31, has played his final season with the Niners. He’s at the end of his three-year, $28.5 million deal. But is Ward in communication with the 49ers’ brass?

“I’ve been in contact with the Niners,” Ward confirmed to his viewers on IG Live. “I don’t know how it’s going to go. I could be playing nickel for the Niners next year, I don’t know. We’ll see. I’ve got to look at the best situation.”

He adds he’s going to go directly to head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.

“I’m going to holler at Kyle and John…see if they can throw your boy a bag,” Ward said.

However, Ward added “I’d play for anybody who is going to put me in a position to win. I’ll play for any team that is going to pay me what I’m worth. It don’t matter the team.”

Spotrac is projecting this kind of deal for the safety/nickelback: $7.6 million annually and signing on for two years for up to $15.230 million. That deal would make him the ninth highest paid player for his position group.

Ward Clarifies Nickelback Situation

Ward not only went to social media to speak out about his pending future with the 49ers, he also wanted to clarify his previous remarks about moving over to the nickelback spot — an area that divided 49er fans but also came with the rumbling Ward was refusing to move to that spot.

“Let’s talk about that nickel stuff,” Ward said. “I never refused to play nickel. I never refused to play nickel. I always wanted to play nickel because I watch a lot of film, so I used to see, easy.”

Ward added that when the 49ers drafted Samuel Womack in the 2022 class and added Deommodore Lenoir via the draft in the 2021 period, those moves prompted Ward to speak up about his own playing status on the 49ers defense.

“So once they drafted [Womack] and they was putting [Deommodore Lenoir] in there a little bit, they was putting Demo in the slot, so I couldn’t get any reps,” Ward explained. “It’s like, ‘Okay. All right. I can’t get any reps. But if something happens and somebody goes down, you’re just going to throw Jimmie Ward out there and tell me to sink or swim?'”

Ward added: “I was basically protecting myself. It’s a whole other world in that slot. I ended up figuring it out.”

Ward ended up playing in five games and delivered these totals: 50 tackles, 38 solo stops, five pass deflections and a career-best three interceptions per Pro Football Reference.

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