Programming note: Watch Jimmie Ward's introductory press conference Friday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, and streaming live on CSNBayArea.com
SANTA CLARA – Jimmie Ward made trips to visit 11 teams before the draft.
But as he sat back and watched the first round, he put on a 49ers cap that was given to him when he interviewed with the team at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Still, he had little indication that the 49ers would use their pick in the first round to select the safety from Northern Illinois.
“I didn’t have any clue,” he said Thursday night after the 49ers made the surprise selection to choose him with the No. 30 overall pick. “There were a lot of teams showing a lot of interest.”
Coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke said Ward’s clearest path to playing time as a rookie is to win the nickel back job against veterans Eric Wright and Perrish Cox. Ward will compete for the job as the team's nickel corner, as well as work as a backup safety.
Carlos Rogers was the 49ers defender assigned to cover the slot receiver the past three seasons.
“I take pride in being versatile,” Ward said. “I can tackle. I can cover. I can do a lot of things. I’d love to compete for that nickel spot. That’s one of the things going into training camp that I’m going to really go hard at.”
Ward went through drills at his pro day on March 7. Ward posted a 38-inch vertical jump, a 10 1/2-foot broad jump and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds. And he did it all with a stress fracture in his foot.
He underwent surgery on March 11. He is expected to be ready for the opening of training camp in late-July.