Playing nickel cornerback wasn’t what Jimmie Ward wanted to do this season, but it was better than not playing at all.
That was the ultimatum Ward says he was given during an IG live on Tuesday night, when he revealed that head coach Kyle Shanahan implied he’d sit on the bench if he didn’t agree to play nickel instead of safety.
“I said, ‘Hey Coach Kyle, put me back at my position. I want to play safety,’ ” Ward said. “He looked back and was like, ‘What do you want to do, dude? Do you want to ride the bench?’
“I was like, ‘Oh, s–t.’ This man just told me do I want to ride the bench. Knowing me, I said, ‘Yeah, just put me on special teams because I’d be a good special teams player.”
Ultimately, Ward did play nickel and did so in excellent fashion. Ward lost his safety job due to an injury and the excellent play of Tashaun Gipson and Talanoa Hufanga in his stead.
“Bro, he told me, ‘Do you want to ride the bench?’” Ward continued. “He let me know right there my spot was gone.”
Ward’s spot with the 49ers next year may also be gone. Ward is about to hit free agency, and said he believes San Francisco tried to low ball him by implying they could make him the highest paid nickel corner in the league, even though he believes he deserves safety money.
Ward also implied after the loss to Philadelphia that he may have played his last game in SF, though he is still open to a return.
Ward is currently the longest tenured 49er, drafted in the first round of 2014 by Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke.