Cynthia Frelund names new 49ers CB Charvarius Ward one of the NFL’s most underrated players


Cynthia Frelund names new 49ers CB Charvarius Ward one of the NFL's most underrated players

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY

Analyst Cynthia Frelund took on the task of identifying the most underrated player for each NFL team. For the San Francisco 49ers, that player is an offseason signing — cornerback Charvarius Ward. Frelund used analytics to measure each player’s performance and their contribution to a team’s overall victory during the 2021 season.

Ward’s contributions last season were for the Kansas City Chiefs. Frelund admits she usually tries to prioritize players who don’t switch teams in the offseason. However, that has proven particularly challenging this year due to the many free-agent moves, so Ward’s value in this drill will benefit the 49ers.

Other factors such as previous salary, where the player was drafted, and lack of NFL honors helped determine who is “underrated” in Frelund’s opinion. Ward joined the league as an undrafted free agent and has never received Pro Bowl or All-Pro honors.

While Ward signed a three-year contract averaging $13.5 million per season, he’s still ranked the 13th (tied with Washington Commanders’ William Jackson, according to OverTheCap) among cornerbacks.

“San Francisco’s free-agent pickup has an NFL-best completion percentage of 46.9 eligible for coverage since 2019, per [Next Gen Stats] (min. 150 slices),” wrote Frelund. “Also, he only had one penalty against himself last season with Kansas City. Unsurprisingly, then, the Niners, who ranked 29th in allowable completion rate (68.2) and whose DBs suffered the most penalties last season, were chasing the 26-year-old this offseason.

Ward finished last season with 67 tackles, two tackles for a loss, two interceptions and 10 passes defended for the Chiefs. Now he can join a talented defensive unit and a coaching staff that sees high ceilings in the young cornerback.

“I don’t feel like they’re missing much,” Ward said of the 49ers in March. “I’ll just bring a lot of energy, a lot of joy, a lot of enthusiasm, just young talent. The coaching staff seems happy to have me. I’m happy to be here and I’m ready to get this thing going.”

Head coach Kyle Shanahan is happy to add Ward to his defense. He praised the cornerback this week.

“He’s such a talented guy as we had here,” shared Shanahan. “He’s a great guy, loves to work. Doesn’t say much. He just goes out and does his job and it seems like he fits in very well.”

Even the offensive players on the team know they’ll get better with Ward as a teammate. A 49ers wide receiver admitted to having already done some homework at the cornerback.

“I’m looking forward to not only facing him but also having him in our defense and watching him look for receivers,” admitted Brandon Aiyuk. “I’ve watched him walk. I’ve seen a lot of his stuff. i have to play [against] him a little bit last season when we played Kansas City preseason, so I know him a little bit. But we’re definitely excited to have him on our team. I’m definitely looking forward to playing better against him and all of our DBs.”

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