SANTA CLARA -- Coach Jim Tomsula on Monday identified young defensive backs Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt as players around whom the 49ers can build as leaders for the future.
And the former high-school teammates also know the man responsible for investing high draft picks in them is closely watching their every move. How do they know that? Ward and Tartt said they often have interaction with general manager Trent Baalke on the practice field.
“He comes down to practice a lot,” Ward said of Baalke. “He’s like another coach. Sometimes I make a mistake and be like, ‘Coach Trent?’
”He’s correcting my techniques, too, when I’m on the field. He’s a pretty good guy. I like him. I don’t mind that.”
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Tim Lewis, in his 21st season as an NFL assistant, is the 49ers’ secondary coach, but Baalke is not shy about sharing his views, either.
“When you see him, he’s always going to coach something, and you have to be ready for it,” Tartt said. “He’s pretty cool.”
Ward was the 49ers’ first-round selection in 2014. The 49ers chose Ward with the No. 30 overall pick. This year, the 49ers picked Tartt in the second round, with the 46th overall pick. They were teammates at Davidson High in Mobile, Alabama.
Baalke has probably experienced his most success with acquisitions in defensive backfield since taking over in 2010 as the 49ers' personnel chief. Ward is playing at high level in his second NFL season after his rookie season was cut short due to a fractured foot after eight games. Tartt has shown many positive signs since taking over for veteran Antoine Bethea, who sustained a season-ending pectoral tear on Oct. 22 against Seattle.