Texans Expected To Sign DB Jimmie Ward

Jimmie Ward will join Hassan Ridgeway in following DeMeco Ryans to Houston. The new Texans HC will have a familiar secondary piece on defense, with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reporting Ward intends to sign (Twitter link).

A 49er throughout his nine-year career, Ward has toggled between safety and nickelback. The 49ers brought back Tashaun Gipson on Sunday, to stay at Ward’s preferred safety position, and the longest-tenured 49er defender is now headed elsewhere.

While Ward frequently moved around on San Francisco’s defense, he provided a considerable boost for some of the NFL’s best units of recent years. Ward was in place at safety for the 49er defense that powered the team to Super Bowl LIV, leading to a 2020 re-signing, and he was on the field for San Francisco’s runs to the NFC championship game over the past two seasons. Ward played 105 regular-season games with the 49ers, starting 79.

Ryans was with the 49ers for six of Ward’s nine seasons, working his way up from the quality control level to DC. He oversaw the decision to move Ward back to the nickel, and while the former first-round pick is believed to have viewed such a move as a demotion, there are obviously no hard feelings. Ryans will now add a versatile player to his defense in Houston.

Ward having experience as a safety and a cornerback in Ryans’ scheme should benefit young Texans talents Jalen Pitre and Derek Stingley. The Texans have safety Jonathan Owens unsigned, potentially leaving a safety spot open for Ward opposite Pitre. With Ward going into his age-31 season, safety would seemingly make more sense at this point in his career. But Ryans was one of the San Francisco DCs to feel comfortable placing the veteran in the slot. If nothing else, Ryans has options here as he constructs his first Texans defense.

Pro Football Focus viewed Ward as having plenty of gas left in the tank, grading him as a top-15 DB this past season. Ward started the season late because of a summer hamstring injury and then suffered a hand malady shortly after returning. But he returned to play in 15 games (three in the postseason) to help the 49ers rank No. 1 in points allowed, yards allowed and defensive DVOA.

View Comments (2)