Jimmie Ward of the San Francisco 49ers hadn’t touched a football in a live NFL game in 1,800 days.
He also entered the Monday Night Football contest against the 7-2 Los Angeles Rams having questioned three things involving the bitter NFC West rival: Why does Sean McVay keep throwing it his way? Why Matthew Stafford couldn’t get it done with his former team? And finally, how is it the Rams keep getting everyone?
Well, the veteran free safety set the tone in the upset of the Rams 31-10…and had Twitter abuzz.
Ward Ends Long Personal Streak
To reiterate: Ward hasn’t intercepted a pass in nearly five years according to Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee.
And according to David Lombardi of The Athletic, Ward’s last interception came before John Lynch took over the general manager duties.
Ward additionally was battling a quad injury before the MNF game, but Lombardi reported he was good to go.
But in one quarter, Ward emerged as the surprise go-to receiver for Stafford on the night he had a new weapon named Odell Beckham Jr.
Here’s how Ward snatched the ball and the soul of the Rams.
Breakdown of Ward Picks
In typical McVay and Rams fashion, L.A. attacked deep. This time, they clearly wanted to get Beckham Jr. involved to ignite their sidelines and offense.
Except Ward — playing the single high safety — takes advantage of Stafford’s overthrown ball.
From there, the 49ers put together an astonishing 18-play, 93-yard drive capped off by George Kittle’s 8-yard touchdown. Ward, however, wasn’t through with connecting with Stafford.
The Rams attempted a tight end screen to Tyler Higbee with Cooper Kupp assigned to Ward as a lead blocker. Ward, however, fights through Kupp’s hands and takes the ball away from Higbee’s botched attempt…turning the bobbled pass into six points.
“That’s exactly what we need for the defense,” Ward told Steve Wyche of the NFL Network after the dominating win. “When the offense goes out there and make plays and when they don’t make plays, we’ve got to feed off each other. I think that’s what we did today. We played together as a whole.”
The 49ers’ Twitter account rewarded Ward with this gif:
Twitter Showers Ward With Praise
Cameron Salerno of The Sacramento Bee, who sat in the press box at Levi’s, summed up the MNF game in four words:
Kristen Moran of Nevada Sports Net, who once cheered with the 49ers’ Gold Rush Cheerleaders, shared her excitement on Twitter.
One ex-teammate of Ward was watching him go off on the Rams. And it’s a cornerback he played with on the ‘Niners:
Gary Klein of the L.A. Times, who covers the Rams for the newspaper, told his Twitter followers that Ward joined one other 49ers defender in the pick six category.
ESPN 49ers reporter Nick Wagoner clearly saw no issues with Ward’s quad on the night.
Eric Branch of the S.F. Chronicle tweeted this significance of Ward’s two-interception night:
The football Twitter account of Ward’s alma mater Northern Illinois took to the social media site to rave about the former Husky’s huge night.
Finally, in a 30-second postgame clip from NBC Sports Bay Area, Ward told ex-49er Donte Whitner that he gave a shout out to his defensive line and linebackers for disrupting Stafford and the air attack. Ward says he’s using a 24-hour rule for his takeaways.
“I don’t care if it was Thursday, Saturday, Tuesday, but if I get a pick, I’m happy and celebrating for 24 hours,” Ward said. “It’s a 24 hour rule.”