San Francisco 49ers: Biggest Matchups Facing Jimmie Ward in Rookie Season

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San Francisco 49ers: Biggest Matchups Facing  Jimmie Ward in Rookie Season
Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

The San Francisco 49ers surprised many in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft by taking Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward with their opening pick.

With Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid set to be San Francisco's starting safeties in the upcoming season, it is unlikely that Ward will get playing time at his most natural position in the 2014 campaign.

However, Ward is a versatile player who has the skills in coverage to operate as a nickel cornerback, a position that will be up for grabs following the departures of Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers during the offseason.

Ward is an excellent all-round football player who should have little difficulty plugging the gap at the nickel spot for San Francisco. But the Niners, per ESPN.com, have the fourth-toughest schedule in the NFL, meaning that Ward is set to face a number of difficult tests in 2014.

Here I look at the biggest matchups Ward will face in his rookie season as he aims to prove that the 49ers made the right move by selecting him with pick No. 30.

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