49ers

Ward ready to be a--hole for 49ers if he needs to be

49ers
Jimmie Ward talking to Richard Sherman

Jimmie Ward was in a mood Wednesday.  

Not only has the seven-year NFL defensive back become more talkative, Ward is growing into a leadership role in the 49ers' secondary. While he has predominantly led by example, the Northern Illinois product knows he might need to become more vocal on the field

“Hopefully I’m not the a--hole, I don’t feel like I’m an a--hole,” Ward said with a laugh. “I don’t think I’m able to say that. I don’t know. If I got to be an a--hole I know I got to do it. If I got to be a big brother, I’ll be a big brother. If I got to be a coach I’ll be a coach. 

“But at the end of the day, I can’t do any of that if I don’t lead by example, so I got to work on me in order to be able to help the other guys. I got to set the example first.”

Ward cited former 49ers defensive back Richard Sherman as someone who he watched as a leader over the past three seasons. The Alabama native observed the five-time Pro-Bowl corner offering advice to members of the offense and defense during his tenure with San Francisco. 

“I feel like Sherm taught me a lot,” Ward said. “The few years Sherm was here I feel like he was one of the best leaders I ever saw in the game of football.”  

 

Sherman returned the compliment, noting how Ward’s play speaks for itself. He believes being on the field along side of the first-round draft pick brings out the best in everyone. 

“He leads by example,” Sherman told NBC Sports Bay Area. “He plays so hard, and executes so well, you are forced to be accountable and match his output.” 

Being talkative is a departure for Ward who explained that his past with the 49ers kept him on the reserved side. After playing at every position in the secondary as he began his NFL career, Ward has finally owned the free safety position the last few seasons.

RELATED: Ward changes jersey number befitting of tenure with 49ers

As a result, Ward has become more confident in his play and in his role as a leader. Perseverance and hard work have shaped the safety’s path and now, he is stepping out of his shell. His demeanor during his media availability was jovial and playful. 

“At the beginning of my career I feel like I took so much heat in the media,” Ward said. “Playing out there too, I was moved from corner to nickel to safety. I don’t know one person in the league right now that was able to do that and still have a successful career, still on a team or not get traded or not get released. 

“I was able to stand through the storm. I am still here and I’m still with the same team and my peers love me and my teammates and my coaches so I feel like I’m blessed. I just got to stay consistent.”

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