There are so many moves an NFL team has to make in an offseason, and the San Francisco 49ers are going to have to make tough decisions.
Most of the attention being paid towards San Francisco revolves around quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance. Besides the potential of Lance being debated, the possibilities for Garoppolo’s trade destinations have also been a talking point.
However, there are several other decisions looming. Extending stars like wide receiver Deebo Samuel and defensive end Nick Bosa, resigning free agents like offensive guard Laken Tomlinson, and, apparently, a possible extension for safety Jimmie Ward.
After an article from NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco was reshared by 49er Global, Ward took notice and sent a message to head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.
“What’s good John & Kyle hit your boi line [laughing emojis],” Ward wrote on an Instagram story, per 49er Global.
It’s obviously with a cheerful nature and shouldn’t ring the bell for alarm. Nonetheless, it is a public declaration from the soon-to-be 31-year-old safety. Every player wants to get extended, but the details that prompted this interaction does set up well for both San Francisco and Ward.
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Ward Extension Could Free Up Money
So, how does agreeing to an extended contract help the 49ers save money? The “magic” of void years. Currently, Ward’s contract is set to count $12.94 million against the cap. As Maiocco pointed out, extending Ward could shove some of that money back to future years so the team can add to their workable cap space, which is only $2.95 million per Spotrac.
“Jimmie Ward, who kept everything together in the secondary with so many moving parts around him, will be back,” Maiocco wrote. “He is the most valuable member of the 49ers’ defensive backfield. Ward has one more year remaining on his contract, and the 49ers could look to free up a little cap room this year with a multi-year extension.”
Maiocco also expects the 49ers to sign a veteran free safety to compete with Ward, which should be a cheap enough option to allow the 49ers to extend Ward if they want.
49ers Projected to Take Safety in 2nd Round
While not a perfect understudy for Ward, ESPN draft analyst Eric Reid is projecting the Niners to take Baylor safety Jalen Pitre with their first pick of the 2022 NFL draft, which comes in the second round.
Pitre has been catching eyes with his hybrid play at Baylor, playing at linebacker, corner and safety. Since switching to safety primarily over the past two seasons, Pitre brought down four interceptions.
“Pitre really impressed me at the Senior Bowl, and he was one of the biggest risers from the event,” Reid wrote. “He primarily played the STAR position in Dave Aranda’s defense at Baylor, but he has a better skill set than playing only close to the line of scrimmage. Pitre is a smooth operator in coverage with some range. With Jaquiski Tartt hitting free agency, the 49ers could try to get younger in their secondary.”
Pitre wouldn’t be looking to be Ward’s successor, but he could certainly learn a thing or two about coverage and the NFL game from the 49ers star.