Cornerback Charvarius Ward was the 49ers’ biggest offseason signing. They added the former Chiefs CB in hopes of improving a secondary that struggled to find consistency a season ago. His presence on the field should help, but his presence off the field is already helpful for San Francisco.
In an interview with the Athletic, 49ers secondary coach Cory Undlin said Ward is doling out knowledge and helping the team’s corners in the classroom during the early stages of the offseason.
“You can’t have a better example of that and a better way to learn,” Undlin told the Athletic about Ward’s press coverage skills. “And for him, to also open up to the (cornerbacks) room and talk about how he goes through his progressions, whether it’s press or off (coverage) or any technique — that’s something I think can help Ambry (Thomas).”
Thomas was a third-round pick of the 49ers last year and he had a hard time adjusting to the NFL after missing the 2020 college season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He improved toward the end of the year, but the team would benefit a lot if he took a substantial leap in 2022.
It’s not just Thomas who the 49ers will lean on though. Veteran Emmanuel Moseley figures to start outside opposite Ward, but after that some young corners will be in the mix. Second-year cornerback Deommodore Lenoir will be compete for the nickel corner job, as will rookie fifth-round pick Samuel Womack. Both of them could stand to benefit a lot from a vet like Ward who has thrived in the NFL as a press coverage corner.
Classroom work will need to translate to the field on Sundays for the 49ers to be successful, but Ward’s early involvement is a good sign for San Francisco’s most significant offseason acquisition.