SANTA CLARA, CA – The San Francisco 49ers team expects no free safety Jimmy Ward Longer than they initially hoped.
Ward suffered what coach Kyle Shanahan called a “very bad” hamstring injury on August 14, and although the Niners admitted he’ll miss some time, it could cost Ward his first month of the season.
Niners general manager John Lynch said at a pre-season show before Thursday against the Houston Texans that Ward is likely to land on an injured reserve to start the season, which will cost him his first four games.
“It allows us to do what we do,” Lynch said in the Amazon broadcast. “He’s a security guy who plays like a safety but also covers like a corner. He’s often our best cover guy so it’s a big loss. But we have to find a way to get up.”
Niners signed safety veteran Tashaun Gipson on Monday to increase depth and competition with Ward out. Donta Johnsonwho is entering his ninth season in the NFL, has moved from a cornerback to a safe camp spot and takes a long look at the free safety after returning from a recent rib injury.
According to the league’s rules, if the 49 players wanted Ward to land on an injured reserve with the option to come back, they would be able to make the move only after the initial 53-player roster was trimmed.
That means the Niners will have to carry Ward’s 53-man roster until 4pm EST on Wednesday before they can put him into an injured reserve. If they did that before, he would have to miss the entire season.
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