The San Francisco 49ers are shuffling their defense at the start of 2020 free agency, having locked up Arik Armstead and shipped DeForest Buckner out of town just since the start of the legal tampering period on Monday.
Late Monday night, they also locked up a starter at the back end of the unit, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, re-signing safety Jimmie Ward to a three-year, $28.5 million contract.
Drafted 30th overall by the Niners in 2014, the 28-year-old Ward has struggled with injuries for his entire six-year NFL career, only once playing all 16 games in a season, but he had somewhat of a breakout 2019 campaign during San Francisco's run to Super Bowl LIV, logging a career-high 65 tackles in 13 starts and playing a significant role in the 49ers' secondary throughout the postseason. With a new annual salary of $9.5 million per season, he'll be paid like one of the top 15 safeties in the league.
Ward, a product of Northern Illinois, re-signed with the team as a free agent in 2019 as well, inking a one-year extension following a 2018 campaign that saw him miss seven games due to injury. He recorded a team-high 11 tackles in the Niners' Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.