Before being sidelined with a hamstring injury in the San Francisco 49ers 3rd game against the Seattle Seahawks, Jimmy Ward was one of the best defensive backs in the league. According to Pro Football Focus, Ward was the 9th best DB in the NFL with a rating of 82.6. Loosing their best DB leaves a big hole for the 49ers, who were able to use Ward in both the slot and on the outside. Tramaine Brock, the 49ers second corner, has struggled to start the season, ranking 70th in PFF rankings with a 52.9 grade.
Ward’s replacement options come down to either rookie Rashard Robinson or third year corner Keith Reaser. Robinson has been impressive in his rookie season being used as a starter on the outside when the 49ers face three receiver sets. He’s played a total of 45 snaps at CB, posting a PFF grade of 72.8. Reaser is right behind Robinson with a 71.4 grade in 54 snaps. The majority of those snaps(47) came in the Seahawks game when Ward pulled his quad and Robinson was out with a stinger. Although the 49ers are only loosing around 10-11 PFF points with Ward being out, the bigger question is if Robinson or Reaser can have an impact in the run game. Ward is a hard hitter who thrives against the run and with Dez Bryant questionable and the Dallas Cowboys starting Dak Prescott, the 49ers are sure to get a heavy doss of Ezekiel Elliott. How the 49ers fair in defending the run needs to improve tremendously if they’re going to have a shot agains the Cowboys.