Jimmie Ward is one of 15 players to be placed on season-ending Injured Reserve for the San Francisco 49ers.
Ward, a reserve safety and slot defensive back, also happens to be the lone member of the team's 2014 draft class on IR.
On Tuesday, Ward described the foot injury, a Jones fracture to his right foot, that caused him to miss the final seven games of the season. The first-round draft pick came to the 49ers with a foot issue that he suffered in college. In San Francisco's Week 10 road game against the New Orleans Saints, Ward aggravated the foot injury in painful fashion.
Ward told reporters that the screw in his right foot, as a result of his first foot surgery in the offseason, bent while he was playing against the Saints. Ward kept playing in the game and was ultimately placed on IR the following week.
"I'm going through the same thing (Michael Crabtree) went through a few years ago," Ward said. "Hopefully it heals well and I'm ready to play next year."
According to the rookie, the team's medical staff inserted a larger screw in his right foot during his most recent procedure. Ward said it's expected to "hold up better than the first one."
With a repaired foot, Ward said he expects to be back in time for San Francisco's offseason program.
"More than ready to go," said Ward, a Northern Illinois product who recorded 20 tackles and two pass breakups this season. "I'm already looking to next year. I can't wait to get back."
Ward will be off of his crutches by next week. He will also will undergo X-rays to ensure that his foot heals properly.
Until he's back on the field, Ward can take solace in knowing that he was able to contribute early on in his NFL career. Ward said his '14 campaign was definitely a learning experience.
When asked to share his toughest matchup, the slot defender didn't hesitate to mention a certain receiver on the Chicago Bears.
"Brandon Marshall," said Ward, who gave up three touchdowns to the veteran receiver in a Week 2 defeat. "That's all I gotta say. I'm going to leave it at his name. That's all I'm going to say."
Despite the challenging matchup in his second NFL game, Ward improved over the course of the season.
"I felt like I was learning the league," he added. "I know what to do, basically. I know the competition, who the best guys are out there. So next year, throughout the training and getting my foot well, I think I'll be ready to go."