Elaine Thompson/Associated Press
The Seattle Seahawks may not have the best group of receivers in the NFL, yet if there is one team that Ward will need to perform well against, it is this one.
Regarded by most as the best rivalry in football, the 49ers and Seahawks will face off twice in the space of three weeks, with the first game coming on Thanksgiving night at Levi's Stadium.
There is little to separate these incredibly well-matched teams, as has been evidenced in the last two meetings between the pair, which have each been decided by a differential of less than a touchdown.
But perhaps one area where the 49ers are behind the Seahawks in terms of quality is in the secondary. Seattle's win in the 2013 NFC Championship Game presents evidence to support this viewpoint, with Seahawks star corner Richard Sherman making the game-winning play after a succession of missed assignments on San Francisco's back end allowed them to recover from a fast start by the Niners.
San Francisco will be eyeing revenge for that disappointment in 2014 as it looks to take back the NFC West title won by the 49ers for two seasons prior to Seattle's rise to prominence.
Both games against the Seahawks will once again be expected to be defensive struggles in which the performances of the respective secondaries should have a crucial bearing on the outcome.
Ward's main assignments against Seattle may come against Percy Harvin and Paul Richardson—the speedy Colorado receiver the Seahawks acquired in the draft—neither of whom will be easy to contain.
But if Ward can improve the San Francisco secondary enough to help the 49ers overcome the Seahawks, then he will have proved his worth as a first-round pick.
Note: All statistics courtesy of Sports Reference.