Without the services of starters Tramaine Brock and Kenneth Acker against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 9, the San Francisco 49ers leaned on Jimmie Ward to lead a group of cornerbacks consisting of Dontae Johnson, Marcus Cromartie and Chris Davis.
Ward ended up twisting both ankles early in the game but played through the pain in San Francisco's 17-16 victory. The nickel cornerback finished his afternoon with six tackles and one pass breakup while on the field for 49 defensive snaps and 18 more on special teams.
Ward's best play came late in the fourth quarter with the Falcons driving in the red zone. On 3rd-and-goal from the 4-yard line, Ward tackled Justin Hardy just shy of the end zone on a rub route to prevent a go-ahead touchdown.
"It's football, (and) nobody is 100 percent in football," Ward said. "But I think I played somewhat well.
"I always think about turnovers though. If I don't get a turnover, I'm not going to grade myself high. But I think I did my job enough so we could get the win."
Ward, the team's first-round pick from a year ago, has already surpassed his rookie tackle total of 20 with 27 takedowns through nine games this season. The Northern Illinois product is still looking for his first career interception.
After missing half of 2014 due to injury, Ward used the bye week this year to heal up for the remaining seven regular season games on San Francisco's schedule.
"I think it was really important for us to go off," Ward said. "I got to rest my body and get ready for more football."
Ward's first assignment out of the break will likely be tracking Seattle Seahawks slot receiver Doug Baldwin on Sunday. The 5-foot-10, 189-pound pass-catcher is coming off of a seven-catch, 134-yard performance versus the Arizona Cardinals.
"He's pretty good," Ward said. "So I just have to be very aware and do a lot of jobs…. I have to make sure I play the run too because Marshawn (Lynch) is a good 'back."