Thursday, May 22, 2014

49ers sign Jimmie Ward, Chris Borland

The 49ers have become the latest team to reach a contract agreement with a first-round pick, striking a four-year deal with safety Jimmie Ward.

The club announced the signing Thursday evening.

The No. 30 selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, the 5-foot-10, 193-pound Ward intercepted a career-high seven passes in 2013 for Northern Illinois, earning a variety of All-American honors. In San Francisco, he is likely to compete for a role covering slot receivers in “sub” packages.

“He’s lined up all over the place,” 49ers G.M. Trent Baalke said of Ward, according to a transcript from the club after the defensive back’s selection in Round One. “He’s lined up in the slot, he’s played outside a little bit, played in the free safety position and also played in the strong safety position. Very versatile player and a very smart football player.”

Ward is the eighth first-round pick to agree to a contract with his new NFL club.

In addition to getting a deal done with Ward, the 49ers also announced the signing of third-round pick Chris Borland, a linebacker from Wisconsin.

Borland (5-11, 248) recorded more than 100 tackles in each of his last three seasons with the Badgers. He could help pick up the slack at inside linebacker as NaVorro Bowman recovers from a January knee injury.

“How can you not love him as a football player?” Baalke said of Borland after his selection, according to the 49ers. “Not tall enough, not fast enough, arms are too short, you hear all of that. We just love the makeup. We love the player. He’s everything you’re looking for from a DNA standpoint. He loves the game. He’s a smart football player. He’s an extremely instinctive football player.”

The 49ers have agreed to deals with 9-of-12 draft picks.

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