INDIANAPOLIS – Jimmie Ward made the transition from reserve safety to starting cornerback last season.
Where he lines up for the 49ers in 2017 has yet to be determined, coach Kyle Shanahan said on Wednesday.
“I’m not sure, yet,” Shanahan said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “That’s something that’ll be discussed because I know that he’s capable of doing both. When we know our whole roster and our options in the draft, free agency, what’s he going to be best for us. But when you have a guy who’s capable of playing both, it gives you some freedom, which is nice.
“Any time you have a guy versatile like him, as a coach, it gives you more options. You just have to make sure whatever options you choose, you’re doing best by him and best by the team, also.”
Ward started eight games in his first two NFL seasons as the team's nickel back after being a first-round draft pick in 2014. Last offseason, the 49ers moved him to cornerback, where he started 10 games. Ward missed three games with a quadriceps injury and was placed on injured reserve late in the season due to a shoulder injury.
He could serve as a key piece in the 49ers’ new scheme under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
“When you play a lot of cover 3, you do want that guy in the middle of the field to be very good player,” Shanahan said.
“When we look at overall roster and how it looks after free agency and the draft, and get Jimmie in and talk to him, that’ll help us make our decision.”
Shanahan said general manager John Lynch will also be involved in the decision. Lynch was a nine-time Pro Bowl performer as a safety with Tampa Bay and Denver. He was a Hall of Fame finalist.
“I’d love to hear John’s opinion, and that’ll be something we’re all talking about,” Shanahan said.