49ers sign draft picks Ward and Borland

49ers sign draft picks Ward and Borland
May 22, 2014, 5:00 pm
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49ers first-round pick Jimmie Ward signs his rookie contract on Thursday. (PHOTO COURTESY 49ERS.COM)

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The 49ers on Thursday announced the signings of first-round draft pick Jimmie Ward and third-rounder Chris Borland.

The 49ers have now signed nine of their 12 draft picks.

The 49ers created the cap space on Wednesday to sign Ward, a safety from Northern Illinois, and Borland, a linebacker from Wisconsin, with a contract conversion of linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

Ward, selected with the No. 30 overall pick, was in line for a signing bonus of $3.5 million on his four-year, $7.1 million contract. As a first-round pick, Ward also has a fifth-year team option, which the 49ers must exercise by May 3 after his third season. It would be a one-year deal for the average of the third through 25th highest salaries among NFL safeties. Borland gets a $617,000 signing bonus on a four-year, $2.9 million contract.

Ward is expected to be the 49ers’ nickel cornerback and play approximately 60 percent of the defensive snaps while covering the opposition’s slot receiver. He will back up starters Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea.

Borland will compete with Michael Wilhoite and others for the job to replace Bowman, who is expected to open training camp and, likely, the regular season on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

The 49ers’ only remaining unsigned draft picks are center Marcus Martin (third round, USC), guard Brandon Thomas (third round, Clemson) and wide receiver Bruce Ellington (fourth round, South Carolina).