The 49ers and Jimmie Ward seem to remember the past a little differently when it comes to Ward’s position change midway through last season.
First their was Ward early in the offseason, saying that Kyle Shanahan asked him if he wanted to ‘ride the bench’ when he bristled at the notion of moving back to nickel corner from safety. Ward was moved after beginning the season on injured reserve, and losing his safety spot to Tashaun Gipson.
At the combine, John Lynch told a different story.
“Kyle doesn’t remember it quite like that,” Lynch said via NBC Sports Bay Area. “We were never benching Jimmie. I think he more tried to sell him on why it was a good thing for him and our team.”
“At first he thought we were crazy,” Lynch said. “He wanted out, but Kyle did a good job. I know they had a meeting and convinced him to stick with it. He did, and sounds like he wants to go back to safety, but I think it adds to who he is as a player to show he has that type of versatility.”
On Monday, Ward responded to the notion he “wanted out,” saying simply, he didn’t.
“I never refused to play nickel,” Ward said. He went on to explain that he hadn’t played any reps at the position and was worried he was being set up to fail.
“I can’t get any reps but if something happens and someone goes down, you’re sending me out there to sink or swim, I wasn’t going to do that,” Ward said. “I figured it out but I wasn’t going to do that.”
Ward’s comments further complicate matters, because he seems to be saying that he wasn’t going to play nickel, right after saying he didn’t refuse to.
Perhaps it’s all semantics, but if there’s any chance that the free agent Ward will return this season, both parties might have to get on the same page first.