The 49ers' vision for Jimmie Ward


The 49ers' vision for Jimmie Ward

SANTA CLARA -- Before the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo get together on a contract for the 2018 season, the 49ers’ two highest-priced players at the beginning of the offseason are wide receiver Pierre Garçon and defensive back Jimmie Ward.

Both ended the season on injured reserve. Both are expected to be ready for the beginning of the team’s offseason program in mid-April. Garçon has done plenty throughout his 10-year career to earn a cap number that exceeds $9 million. He was on pace for a 1,000-yard season without ever benefitting from Garoppolo at quarterback. Through eight games, Garçon led the 49ers with 40 catches for 500 yards before going on injured reserve with a non-displaced fracture of the C-5 pedicle -- an injury that requires an eight-week recovery.

Ward’s pay for the upcoming season is scheduled to quadruple to $8.526 million – the required amount to retain his services as a 2014 first-round draft pick via the fifth-year option.

While Ward’s scheduled salary is high, the 49ers certainly have the cap space to pay him. Also, there is no financial commitment for future seasons. The 49ers could approach Ward about negotiating a multi-year contract extension, too.

“We’ll figure all that out,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “But we’re excited to have Jimmie back and plan on him being a big-time contributor to this team.”

The scheduled salary reflects the pay that was set for a cornerback. Ward moved to cornerback in 2016 before the new coaching staff determined he was a better fit back at free safety in the new defensive scheme.

The 49ers need to find another starting cornerback to pair with Ahkello Witherspoon, but it is uncertain whether the team will seriously consider another position change for Ward. Team sources indicate that Ward is viewed as a player who can be an acceptable cornerback. But the 49ers believe Ward can be a Pro Bowl-caliber free safety. However, the 49ers already have two other promising safeties under contract: Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert.

“We like Jimmie Ward,” Lynch said. “We like the versatility that he brings to this team. We like the mindset that he brings. He’s a tough football player.”

Ward missed 22 games in his first four seasons due to a variety of injuries, including fractures of his foot, collarbone and forearm.

“I’ve seen players before have a run of injuries early in their career and somehow they figure something out and they get through it,” Lynch said. “Hopefully that can be the case for him.”


Report: Stubblefield taken into custody, booked into jail in no-bail case

Santa Clara Sheriff Office

Report: Stubblefield taken into custody, booked into jail in no-bail case

Former 49ers defensive lineman Dana Stubblefield is behind bars. 

According to the Mercury News, Stubblefield was led away from court to jail in handcuffs Friday after a judge found there was probable cause to hold him over for trial on charges of rape stemming from May 2016. 

Stubblefield is charged with raping an intellectually disabled woman on April 9, 2015 at his Morgan Hill home when she had gone to interview for a babysitting job. 

According to the same report, Stubblefield had been free on $250,000 bail for more than a year. But the judge ordered him taken into custody Friday after prosecutors formally added the allegation that Stubblefield used a gun during the assault, which made it a no-bail case.

Stubblefield has pleaded not guilty and publicly denied the five felony charges and gun enhancement that prosecutors say could lead to at least 15 years to life in prison if he is convicted.

Stubblefield played 11 seasons in the NFL, including the first five with the 49ers. He later returned to the 49ers in 2001 and ’02, before finishing his career with the Raiders.

Stubblefield, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 1993, was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after recording 10.5 sacks. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year with a career-high 15 sacks in 1997. He signed a lucrative contract with Washington in 1998.

Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts


Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

The 49ers recently re-signed eight of the 10 players who finished the season on the team’s practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who was not among the first wave of 49ers signings to 2018 contracts, signed Wednesday with the Indianapolis Colts, ending his three-season association with the organization.

Smelter was one of general manager Trent Baalke’s redshirt draft picks. The team selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft despite a torn ACL that ended his final season at Georgia Tech.

Smelter spent his first season on an injured list. He was waived at the beginning of the past two seasons, finishing both years on the 49ers’ practice squad. Smelter appeared in two games in 2016 and caught one pass for 23 yards.

Last season, the 49ers signed wide receivers Louis Murphy and Max McCaffrey to spots on the 53-man roster instead of Smelter, who remained on the practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Carter, who also spent the entire season on the practice squad, was signed recently to the team’s 90-man roster.

Others who finished the season on the 49ers practice squad to remain on the team’s offseason roster are: quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Cole Wick, offensive linemen Andrew Lauderdale and Pace Murphy, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, and defensive backs Trovon Reed and Channing Stribling.

The 49ers also signed fullback Malcolm Johnson, who spent last season on injured reserve with the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson appeared in 19 games over the 2015 and ’16 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was a sixth-round draft pick in ’15.

Offensive linemen Cameron Hunt, who finished the season on the 49ers’ practice squad, remains unsigned. Guard JP Flynn is also unsigned. He sustained a torn patellar tendon in November and underwent surgery that was expected to keep him out up to nine months.