49ers

49ers considered Jimmie Ward's injury history with one-year contract

49ers considered Jimmie Ward's injury history with one-year contract

The 49ers carefully considered the risks.

And, ultimately, they came up with a one-year, prove-it contract offer that led to versatile and hard-charging defensive back Jimmie Ward remaining with the 49ers for the start of his sixth NFL season.

“It’s not an easy answer, because there’s a long (injury) history,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. “But there’s also a very, very talented football player who I would tell you grew into a really special leader.”

Said coach Kyle Shanahan, “I love Jimmie Ward. . . . We all know he’s struggled a little bit to stay healthy. But he’s a guy, as a person, I’ll go to war with every day. I really trust and believe in, and I love him as a player, too.”

Ward missed 29 games through his first five seasons in the league.

Ward sustained a fractured collarbone while diving for a ball in a non-padded practice during organized team activities on Thursday in Santa Clara. He will undergo surgery, and the 49ers expect him to be out of action for eight to 12 weeks.

Eight weeks would place Ward as healthy a full week before the start of training camp. With a 12-week recovery (Aug. 16), the 49ers will have played one exhibition game with the second game coming up on Monday, Aug. 19, against the Denver Broncos.

Ward has now sustained broken bones in five of his six NFL seasons. The first four fractures came during the regular season and landed him on season-ending injured reserve lists.

Here is the rundown of Ward’s injury history since completing his college career at Northern Illinois:

2014

When Ward showed up at the combine, he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right foot and was not allowed to take part in any on-field testing. The injury came as a surprise to Ward, who had not experienced any pain. He felt healthy enough to run several weeks later at this pro day, where he was timed at 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Ward underwent surgery in March to repair the Jones fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his foot, and the 49ers drafted him with the No. 30 overall pick in the draft.

He did not take part in the offseason program as a rookie, but he appeared in each of the team's exhibition games that summer.

Ward was not active for the Week 7 game against Denver due to a quadriceps injury.

In Week 10, while making a tackle against New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham, the screw bent from his March surgery in his right foot and fifth metatarsal broke again. He finished the game, but a new, larger screw had to be inserted. He was placed on injured reserve.

Games missed: 8

2015

Ward appeared on the injury report just once all season. He was listed as probable for the 49ers’ Week 15 game against Cincinnati with an elbow condition, and he played well. As the team’s nickel back, he had six tackles, a sack, two tackles for losses, and a pass defensed.

Games missed: 0

2016

Ward sustained a non-contact left quadriceps injury in Week 3 while running down the field to cover a kickoff against Seattle. He missed three games due to the injury.

In Week 11, Ward was diagnosed with a concussion, but he returned to play the following week against Miami.

In Week 15, Ward sustained a fractured right collarbone when he landed hard upon tackling Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Aldrick Robinson down the field. He was placed on injured reserve.

Games missed: 5

2017

Ward sustained a left hamstring injury in the conditioning test at the start of training camp in late-July. In late-August, he was activated off the physically-unable-to-perform list. He did not play in the preseason, and he sat out the season opener against Carolina.

While playing free safety, he fractured his left forearm in Week 8 while tackling Philadelphia tight end Trey Burton. He was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Games missed: 9

2018

Ward missed extended time in the 49ers’ offseason program due to an ankle injury. He was bothered by a hamstring injury during training camp and left the team’s Week 3 exhibition game against Indianapolis after playing just two snaps on special teams

Ward, who was starting at cornerback, left the 49ers’ Week 6 game against Green Bay with a hamstring injury. He missed the following game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Upon moving to free safety, Ward sustained a fractured left forearm – but in a different place than a year earlier – while tackling Tampa Bay’s 225-pound running back Peyton Barber in Week 12.

The 49ers had evaluated Ward as playing better than anyone in their secondary at the time of the injury.

After the game, Ward said his injuries can be attributed to how hard he plays.

“I play physical,” Ward said. “I don’t know no other way but to play. When I’m at corner, I’m physical. Nickel, physical. Safety, physical. I’m just a tough bird.

“When it happens, it happens. I’ve been here before. I’m just going to grind and get back.”

He was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Games missed: 7

2019

The 49ers re-signed Ward to a guaranteed one-year, $3 million contract in March. He can earn an additional $1.5 million in per-game roster bonuses.

[RELATED: Bosa to miss a few weeks of practice with hamstring injury]

The club expects Ward, if healthy, to start at free safety this season. And it was clear during an open practice on Tuesday, that his style of play is every bit as aggressive as ever. While covering rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel, Ward got physical and flung Samuel to the ground in a drill designed to be non-contact.

Ward sustained a fractured collarbone in the team’s next practice. Adrian Colbert will take over as the 49ers' first-team free safety for the remainder of the offseason program, which concludes June 13.

49ers' George Kittle 'really proud' of team's offseason work, effort

49ers' George Kittle 'really proud' of team's offseason work, effort

George Kittle was ahead of the game in preparing for what has been the most unusual offseason in NFL history. He built up his home gym before supplies ran out, permitting him to maintain his physical shape.

But, as we know, there's a difference between working out at home and playing football. Players can independently lift and train all they want, but on-field reps in a team setting are essential to success.

That's why several of the 49ers' offensive skill players have met up at various points over the last couple of months to get those reps in while team facilities remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. They've had local workouts at San Jose State, and a large contingent got together in Nashville last month.

Kittle was present for that session, which was the most-attended one yet. On the latest episode of the 49ers Insider Podcast, he told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco that he came away very impressed with the work his teammates have been putting in.

"Really, everyone looked good," Kittle said of the Nashville session. "It was just fun to see. You could tell guys have been working. That's the effort you want to see. My last two OTAs, guys have come back and everyone might be a little stiff because maybe they weren't training the absolute hardest because there's phase one and phase two of OTAs for you to get fully back in shape. But when everyone showed up, everyone looked good. Everyone was moving fast, catching the ball, communicating well. 

"I think one of my favorite parts is trying to teach guys the motions of our offense, because I think we motion like twice as much as any other team, and trying to coach that was really fun and interesting to watch with the rookies. But I think it was very important for us to get that time together, just so we could install a little bit. Because in the Zoom meetings, you can only do so much, and I think most guys are on-the-field learners. They need to feel it, they need to see it, and we tried our best to replicate a practice."

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

It might not have been the equivalent of a traditional practice despite their efforts, but Kittle still views those sessions as a significant benefit.

"To some extent, you can do that," Kittle continued, "but you don't have coach [Kyle] Shanahan there, you don't have coach [tight ends/assistant head coach Jon] Embree, you don't have [wide receivers coach] Wes Welker there yelling at you, you don't have the defense yelling at you. So, I think it was a good start, but we have a long way to go, and I think the foundation we have put in and that everyone has put in this offseason will definitely give us a step ahead on some teams."

[RELATED: Kittle cites 49ers captaincy, leadership as holdout deterrents]

Whenever the offseason ends, San Francisco's still will have been shorter than all but one other NFL team. That's the price of advancing to the Super Bowl, one every team surely would pay, but only two actually do each year. Given the additional wear and tear the 49ers endured on their path to Super Bowl LIV, it would have been understandable if they took more time before delving into offseason work.

But as Kittle explained, the ending of that game remains fresh in the team's mind and has served as motivation to get back to the grind.

"I'm just really proud of the team," Kittle said. "I've been talking to guys the entire offseason, even guys that don't put up videos and stuff, to just check in. I think everybody feels that. Everyone was disappointed with how the season ended, and everyone's hungry, and I think that's the best thing for a team. If you don't lose that hunger, you come back stronger than ever. So, it's just fun to watch the guys work out and really train. 

"Like I said, OTAs are a big deal, especially for rookies. Like, I can't imagine going into my rookie year without an OTA, just going straight into training camp. But I think we have a mature team, even though we're still really young, and being able just to communicate with my rookies, between Chase [Harrell] and Charlie [Woerner], they're both preparing in the right ways. I think we're all just kind of itching and we're just waiting to play football again."

Throughout league history, teams that lose in the Super Bowl often have gone on to struggle the following season. Despite it being an unprecedented offseason, the 49ers clearly are determined to buck that trend.

Raheem Mostert's agent responds to fake account rescinding trade request

Raheem Mostert's agent responds to fake account rescinding trade request

Don't believe everything you see on the internet, kids.

On Thursday, a fake Twitter account pretending to be Raheem Mostert's agent Brett Tessler appeared to rescind the trade request the running back made Wednesday. The account duped people across the internet, by putting an uppercase "I" in place of the lowercase "L" in Tessler's actual Twitter handle.

The real Tessler logged on to respond to the fake account, and make it known that his client has not changed his mind about wanting to be traded from the 49ers.

You know you've made it when the internet starts fake accounts.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Tessler and Mostert requested a trade from the 49ers on Wednesday, citing "unproductive talks" as the playoff hero looks to get the pay raise he believes he's earned after a massive postseason performance that saw him rush for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the 49ers' NFC Championship Game win over the Green Bay Packers.

Mostert, 28, went from key special teams player to lead running back during the course of the season. After a long NFL journey, it's understandable that Mostert would want to cash in, as the expiration date for most running backs is before the age of 30.

With the financial situation in the NFL uncertain due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's easy to see why Mostert and the 49ers are at a standstill. Mostert currently is the 23rd highest-paid running back in the NFL, which is, by definition, starter's money. Unfortunately for Mostert, he has no leverage in this situation.

[RELATED: Sherman blasts NFL's 2020 jersey swap policy]

Back to the plague of fake Twitter accounts.

Now, you might be wondering who would get bamboozled by an uppercase "I" replacing a lowercase "L?" Oh, no one in particular.

Sorry, Matt. Even the best get got.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]