Why Charvarius Ward turns out to be worth the 49ers’ high price tag

WHITE SULFUR SPRINGS, W. Va., — Charvarius “Mooney” Ward has quickly proven to be worth the price the 49ers paid for him this offseason.

The 49ers made it a priority to lock down their secondary and signed Ward to a three-year contract worth $40.5 million in free agency. Ward might not have the stash of other household names, but that didn’t matter to general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan.

In five games this season, Ward has proven his worth, breaking eight assists, including four in the 49ers’ Week 5 win over Carolina. The fifth-year corner also racked up 18 tackles and one interception while receiving the fifth-highest PFF rating for coverage in the league (min 100 snaps).

“That’s what he hoped he could be,” Shanahan said Wednesday. “When you go into free agency the money gets so high and so does his, but we thought it was worth it. For him to come and be exactly what we thought was great. When you swing, you hope you hit, and I definitely feel like we did.

Ward quickly fit into the 49ers defensive scheme and creates a challenge for any quarterback willing to throw at him. Ward allowed just one hold for 32 yards in Week 5 while forcing four tight windows on six targets according to Zebra Technologies.

Ward imposed the highest tight window goal rate (36.7%) since entering the league in 2018 (min 200 goals). But coverage isn’t the only thing Ward excels at. The defensive back told NBC Sports Bay Area that he also enjoys being involved in the running game.

“I don’t just get paid to cover, I get paid to tackle,” Ward said after Sunday’s game. “They block, the running back comes out to my side, I’m going to hit him. I’m going to keep getting my nose dirty, I’m not afraid to tackle.

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Ward’s physical talent is bolstered by his mental preparation and technique. Shanahan explained how this helps Ward play with minimal errors.

“I think he never gets out of control,” Shanahan said. “He’s not a guy that’s missed a lot. He’s patient with his hands, patient with his feet, always looks above the guys and has the speed and length to recover when he’s not too.

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Eleanor C. William