Jimmie Ward's biggest issue always has been staying on the field. But when he does, he has shown himself capable of being one of the best safeties in the NFL, as he did in the 49ers' 23-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
Ward perhaps was San Francisco's best defensive player in a game in which the defense as a whole proved to be the difference. He notched five total tackles (four solo), one pass deflection and two forced fumbles, both of which were recovered by the 49ers. He was impressive in coverage, allowing only three receptions for 16 yards on the eight routes in which he was targeted.
Collectively, it was the best game of Ward's career, as he earned a career-best 94.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.
On the season to date, Ward is PFF's sixth-highest graded overall safety in the league, and he has played in all but one game. His production hasn't gone unnoticed, particularly to cornerback Richard Sherman.
Sherman knows a thing or two about being one of the best at his craft, so his praise for Ward is saying a lot. The 49ers' secondary could look a lot different next season, but they can have confidence knowing Ward will be around to help lead it.