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Notebook: Jimmie Ward Continues Diverse Role, Glenn Dorsey Closer to Return

It wouldn't be a true San Francisco 49ers game with Jimmie Ward only playing one position.

The team's Week 1 home victory over the Los Angeles Rams saw a recent trend continue: Ward lining up a variety of spots.

Unlike the past two seasons when the first-round pick played slot cornerback, reserve safety and special teams, Ward started his first NFL game at cornerback against the Rams. But that wasn't his only responsibility. Ward moved inside to play slot corner with Chris Davis inactive due to a hamstring injury. Rookie Rashard Robinson entered the game and played on the perimeter as San Francisco's third cornerback.

In 61 snaps on the field, Ward recorded three tackles and two pass breakups against the Rams.

When asked what it was like to see himself playing outside cornerback in a regular season game, Ward smiled and said, "It was pretty cool."

Ward said his technique could have been better, but he was pleased overall with his debut at cornerback and his ability to step up and help the team's depth at slot corner.

Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil felt the same way.

"He did a really good job and when Chris (Davis) went down last week and we needed him to do it, he didn't bat an eye at it," O'Neil said.

Kelly added that the improved health of Davis and Keith Reaser (ankle) could give the 49ers more options in the defensive backfield. Both players have been limited in practice this week.

"If you've got some more guys back, then we can start to distribute those reps a little bit more and keep our team a little bit fresher," Kelly said. "You don't know what the temperature is going to be like when you're going down to Carolina. Is it hot? Is it humid? Do we have to play a little bit more?"

If the answer is, "Yes," to those aforementioned questions, Kelly and the 49ers coaches will consider dressing nine defensive backs on Sunday.

If Davis and Reaser are unable to play for a second consecutive week, Ward is good with continuing his diverse role.

"Whatever coach needs me to play, that's where I'm going to play," Ward said.

Niners Notes

-- Veteran defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey (knee) was limited again at Thursday's practice. Dorsey tore his ACL late in the 2015 regular season but is closer to returning to the field, Kelly said. "We're hoping we get him out here this week," the coach said. "He'll be practicing today."

 -- Arik Armstead recorded a sack in his limited role in the Week 1 win over the Rams. Kelly said the 49ers would increase his playing time after the 2015 first-round pick missed the entire preseason due to a shoulder injury. "You can't take a guy coming off an injury and then throw him in for 70 plays when he's never done anything up until that," Kelly said.

-- Kelly said third-string quarterback Christian Ponder has been San Francisco's scout-team quarterback. Kelly added that Colin Kaepernick has been getting three, first-team reps per every 12-rep team period, per Kelly. Blaine Gabbert getting the other nine snaps. "Christian's spent a lot of time watching the other team's film so he can really simulate kind of what they're doing," Kelly said. "Then when the defense is up, Kap and Blaine are with (quarterbacks) coach (Ryan) Day. As we get going that may change, but that's just kind of what the plan was this week."

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