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Jimmie Ward’s Instincts Informed by Film Room

Posted May 12, 2014

San Francisco 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward puts in plenty of work in the film room in order to make plays on gameday.

What kind of player are the San Francisco 49ers getting in defensive back Jimmie Ward?

In his own words, a “ball hawk.”

As a senior at Northern Illinois, the first-round NFL Draft pick lived up to this title with seven interceptions.

­­When watching film of Ward, Jim Harbaugh said the 49ers scouting staff recognized his ability to “react to plays before anybody else sees them.”

This ability, according to Ward, comes from spending countless hours in the film room.

“Film plays a big part in it,” Ward told 49ers.com. “If you don’t have to think on the field, that means you’re playing fast. If you know where you have to be at and you don’t have to think, that’s what you want to do. That’s my advantage. I just want to fly.”

As it turns out, Ward has plenty in common with the man who drafted him, general manager Trent Baalke.

“I love the film room, so I don’t mind being in there,” Baalke said at his annual pre-draft press conference. “It’s kind of a sanctuary to be honest with you. Nobody can get in and nobody can get out.”

Ward shares Baalke’s penchant for film study, not only watching tape on his opponents, but his teammates as well.

“I watch film on my own team because I want to be prepared for practice,” Ward said. “Whatever you do in practice is going to reflect on what you do in a game.”

When it comes to the NFL, Ward is still just beginning to scratch the surface. Soon he will begin dissecting other defensive backs and wide receivers.

However, there is one player he already knows quite well –teammate Eric Reid.

“He’s a baller,” Ward said about Reid. “He makes plays, he sets the tone, and he’ll get the defense fired up. I used to watch him at LSU. With him, the ‘Honey Badger’ (Tyrann Mathieu) and (Morris) Claiborne, they had a really good defense. I just focused on (Reid) because he was a safety and I liked the way he played. He plays the game with a lot of passion, and I think he’s really dedicated to the game of football.”

Now, Ward and Reid will get a chance to work together and potentially play alongside each another in the 49ers secondary.