Defensive back Jimmie Ward’s first four NFL seasons were plagued by injuries. And his fifth year in the league has already gotten off to a difficult start.
Ward, a first-round pick in the 2014 draft, missed 22 games in four seasons with a variety of injuries, including a broken forearm last year that limited him to a career-low seven games. He missed time in the offseason program and training camp with ankle and hamstring injuries.
And on Saturday, Ward took part in just two special-teams plays before exiting the 49ers’ game against the Indianapolis Colts with a quadriceps strain. He will be held out of the 49ers’ preseason finale on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Chargers, coach Kyle Shanahan said.
It also appears as if the 49ers are still counting on Ward to be a significant contributor this season as reserve who can play every position in the defensive backfield.
“It’s just unfortunate,” Shanahan said Sunday evening in a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Jimmie works real hard. I love Jimmie as a player, and he’s very tough. He has gotten hurt a lot, but I don’t question any of those (injuries).
“Jimmie throws his body around. He works very hard and he’s just been very unfortunate. I feel for him because he’s as frustrated with it as anyone. Hopefully, this quad thing won’t be too long and because we expect him to help us out a lot this year just like last year when he was healthy. And just like before we got here when he was healthy. But he’s a tough run of luck here and hopefully that’ll start to get better for him.”
Ward and wide receivers Dante Pettis (knee bruise) and Aaron Burbridge (hamstring) will not practice this week or play against the Chargers. Shanahan said all those players should be available for the 49ers when they open the regular season on Sunday, Sept. 9, against the Minnesota Vikings.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers also are not likely to have linebacker Reuben Foster on the field Thursday. He sustained a concussion Saturday night and is not likely to pass through the league’s concussion return-to-play protocol in time to take part in teh final exhibition game.
Offensive lineman Garry Gilliam sustained a concussion in the 49ers’ exhibition opener and has yet to be cleared for full contact.