With the 30th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers got it right by selecting safety Jimmie Ward. With major needs at cornerback, outside linebacker and wide receiver, the 49ers went with the best player available on their draft board with the first of their 11 total draft picks in this year’s draft.
After reaching the NFC Championship Game for the third consecutive year, the 49ers are in win now mode and Ward will help in the team’s quest for not only a fourth straight NFC Championship appearance, but the team’s first Super Bowl victory since 1995. Ward will help the 49ers in the tough NFC West with three quality teams in the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, the 10-6 Arizona Cardinals squad from a year ago and the St. Louis Rams, who despite quarterback troubles, finished 7-9 last season.
Ward will team nicely with current 49ers like Eric Reid and free agent Antoine Bethea at the safety position and to strengthen an already dominant defense. The 49ers’ defense will greatly benefit from having Ward on their roster after Donte Whitner left this offseason for the Cleveland Browns and Bethea not having many quality years left.
After two seasons of average draft classes and players like A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James approaching or have already been labeled as busts, the 49ers got a steal when they selected Ward this year. Much like the Baltimore Ravens, the 49ers selected safeties with consecutive first-round picks and even with Bethea, the 49ers could use all three at the same time in some exotic schemes that use three safeties on the field at the same time.
After selecting Ward with their first pick, the 49ers still can improve tremendously with five day two picks, including two towards the end of the second round and three in the mid to late third round. The 49ers are off to a great start in their quest for yet another NFC Championship berth in 2014 and hopefully another Super Bowl berth.