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 – The 49ers did not trade up. Then, when they went on the clock, they made a stunning pick of Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward.
5 foot 11
Selection: First round, No. 30 overall
Chosen ahead of: WR Marqise Lee (USC), WR Cody Latimer (Indiana), WR Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt), WR Davante Adams (Fresno State), DT Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame), CB Bradley Roby (Ohio State).
College career: He had four career blocked kicks on special teams in college. A three-year starter (39 career starts) with excellent production, leading the team in tackles and interceptions as a junior and senior. He was named All-MAC the past three seasons. He recorded 11 interceptions in his college career.
Scouting report: “Ward doesn’t look like much but packs a punch and plays bigger than he looks with an energetic mentality and confident attitude. He is instinctive, scrappy and physical and plays the game with strong conviction. Ward’s tape shows off his versatility with experience lining up at FS, CB, and WLB, spending time in man and zone and handling multiple responsibilities – future NFL starter at FS” – NFLDraftScout.com
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How he fits: The selection of Ward is a big surprise, considering the 49ers selected Eric Reid in the first round last season. And in free agency, the 49ers awarded veteran Antoine Bethea a four-year, $21 million contract. He has a chance to compete for playing time as the slot corner. But, more than likely, he will be a special-teams standout in his first year and eventually work into a starting job in future seasons.
Next scheduled pick: Second round, No. 56 overall (Friday).