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Jimmie Ward Welcomes Challenge of Facing 49ers Wideouts

Posted Jul 25, 2014

Surrounded by reporters after his first training camp practice, Ward admitted how hard it is to cover the likes of Anquan Boldin, Stevie Johnson and Quinton Patton.

You may have noticed while watching Jimmie Ward’s first interception in his first training camp practice.

He’s not the biggest. And he’s not the fastest.

After his pick of Colin Kaepernick, however, San Francisco 49ers first-round draft was safe in saying that he can keep up with his new teammates in his new environs.

“It was pretty fast, but just the big guys got faster,” Ward, listed at 5 feet, 10 inches and 193 pounds, said of the session’s pace. “I’m the same speed as a lot of the skill guys out there.”

Thursday was our first look at the defensive back. But as Jim Harbaugh revealed, there were some “very good positives” for Ward in two padded practices with fellow rookies and rehabbing players in the lead-up to camp.

Ward, who missed team drills during previous offseason workouts because of a foot injury, told reporters that veteran Stevie Johnson, who has “quick feet, quick hands,” beat him on multiple plays in those private sessions.

He also admitted to having a hard time blanketing both Quinton Patton, who forced him into a somersault on one route, and Anquan Boldin during Thursday's practice.

“I think Quinton Patton does that on purpose to get in front of a guy and make him trip up,” Ward said. “It was my first time going against him one on one, so a hard lesson learned.”

And Boldin?

“I went up against him twice. He put a swim-move on me. He put his strength on display. I know how to play him (Friday).”

Ward said he was confident that the team’s pass-catching options, which also feature wideout Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis, would make him and his fellow defensive secondary ‘mates better in the long run.

We say defensive secondary, because Ward is learning two different positions during these camp sessions. He was lined up as the nickel cornerback when he created his turnover, and he’s also trying to pick up the safety spot behind starters Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea.

“I do the cornerback drills because they help my footwork better, making everything precise and tight,” said Ward, who worked with both position groups at Northern Illinoise University. “It helps me to play tight ends and receivers.

“Until we get the pads on, then we’ll see. I think that’s when the coaches will find out what position I’m better at.”

Generating more turnovers in practice could increase his role the way that Tramaine Brock did as a replacement starter last year before earning a full-time gig and a new contract.

“If I keep making plays like that,” he said of his interception, “I’ll be seen hopefully and get some playing time.

“I couldn’t participate in the OTAs, so I was trying to be a sponge and take in all the information. Finally, getting to come out here, I am trying to prove myself.”

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