49ers DBs coach is staunch supporter of Jimmie Ward


49ers DBs coach is staunch supporter of Jimmie Ward

Jimmie Ward, the 49ers’ first-round draft pick of 2014 and highest-paid defensive player this season, has sat out 32 games in four years due to injuries and has never started more than 10 games in a season.

But defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley wishes 49ers fans who are exasperated with Ward could see what he sees.

“I couldn’t disagree more with anybody who has any negativity about Jimmie,” Hafley said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “If you ever had a chance to meet him, I think you’d see that. If you ever had a chance to coach him or see how hard he practices and how hard he plays and how he puts his body on the line and gives you everything he has, I think you’d immediately respect him.”

Ward was placed on injured reserve his rookie season with a foot fracture. After playing all 16 games in 2015, his season ended prematurely in ’16 with a fractured shoulder blade. Last season, he missed training camp with a hamstring injury, then appeared in just seven games before sustaining a broken forearm.

“He’s been injured, and you can be frustrated because he’s been injured,” Hafley said. “I mean, I’m sure he’s frustrated that he’s injured. But you have to respect him because of how hard he’s worked and what he does every time he steps out on the field.

“So, now, he has to take care of his body and hopefully things will bounce the right way for him and he’ll have a complete season. And when that does happen, I think what you’re going to see is everybody’s going to be wearing No. 20 jerseys at that point.”

Ward wore No. 25 in his first four NFL seasons before giving up that number to veteran Richard Sherman, who signed with the 49ers in March after spending seven seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.

Ward started last season at free safety after starting 10 games in 2016 at cornerback. He also has served as the team’s top nickel back during his time with the 49ers. This offseason, Ward was back at cornerback while Sherman rehabbed from Achilles surgery. Ward is guaranteed his $8.526 million salary this season, as the 49ers last year picked up his fifth-year option. But where Ward plays -- where he is needed -- might not be determined for another two months.

“I think it was necessary to put him at corner right now because it’s the position he has not played for the longest period of time and we wanted to see what he could do,” Hafley said. “And he has shown that he looks like a starting NFL corner.

“Now, all that being said, you know he can be a starting NFL nickel. We’ve seen it; he’s proved it. And we know he can be a starting NFL free safety. . . I think it’s going to play out in training camp. I really do.”

Marcus Allen calls T.O.'s decision to skip Hall of Fame ceremony 'mind-boggling'

Marcus Allen calls T.O.'s decision to skip Hall of Fame ceremony 'mind-boggling'

Former Raiders running back Marcus Allen knows a thing or two about the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

August marks 15 years since his induction, which came six years after his retirement from the NFL. He told NBC Sports Bay Area's Kelli Johnson and Monte Poole during The Happy Hour on Friday that the honor's meaning was "hard to put into words."

Consider Allen surprised, then, that soon-to-be-inducted Terrell Owens will skip the ceremony in Canton, OH on August 4. 

"It's mind-boggling to me because I think there is no greater platform in the football world than the Hall of Fame to really sort of say 'thank you' to all the people that have helped you get there," Allen said from the American Century Championship Celebrity Golf Tournament in Lake Tahoe. 

"No man's an island. We didn't get there by ourselves," Allen continued. "My father [introduced me] and I wanted the world to know who supported me [along the way]."

Allen added that he thinks Owens will regret the decision in the long run. 

The former 49ers wide receiver will commemorate his induction on August 4 with a speech at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga at 3:17 p.m. CT (1:17 p.m. PT), hours before the festivities in Canton. The Hall of Fame won't mention Owens at the ceremony, but will maill him his gold jacket that day.

Jerry Rice emphatically (and profanely) makes his case as the G.O.A.T

Jerry Rice emphatically (and profanely) makes his case as the G.O.A.T

Legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice has a case as good as anyone as the greatest football player of all time.

He is a three-time Super Bowl champion, a 13-time Pro Bowl pick and a 10-time first-team All-Pro. He's the NFL career leader in receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895), and total touchdowns (208). 

But you don't need us to tell you. The former 49ers and Raiders wideout made the case for himself with some colorful language to Charles Barkley at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Lake Tahoe. 

We couldn't have put it better ourselves.