Safety Jimmie Ward’s entire 2018 salary of $8.526 million became fully guaranteed Wednesday at 1 p.m. with the start of the new league year.
Ward is expected to be the 49ers’ starting free safety, but he might not be recognizable at first. That’s because Ward will not wear No. 25 this season.
New 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said on KNBR this week that Ward has allowed Sherman to wear No. 25. Sherman, a four-time Pro Bowl performer in his seven NFL seasons, wore the number with the Seattle Seahawks. Ward will wear No. 20.
“We had a good conversation and he’s going to give me my number, which is cool and a testament to him,” Sherman said of Ward. “He’s a great guy and he told me the story of why he wore the number and it actually meant a lot to him. So I appreciated him being willing to give me a chance at it.”
The 49ers last year picked up the fifth-year option on Ward, who was a first-round draft pick in 2014. The salary became fully guaranteed when Ward remained on the team's roster for the start of the 2018 league year.
Ward has been plagued by injuries in his career, appearing in 42 games in his career. He has played nickel back, cornerback and safety during his career. Ward's season ended after seven games last season due to a fractured forearm.
The 49ers appear to be in good shape at the safety positions with Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert. The club has not made an effort to re-sign veteran safety Eric Reid, an unrestricted free agent.