Charvarius Ward

49ers DC Sorensen pinpoints Ward's key trait that goes ‘overlooked'

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Charvarius Ward put together an incredible 2023 NFL season while playing through a core muscle injury, and that's no surprise to 49ers defensive coordinator Nick Sorensen.

In fact, Ward's stellar campaign highlighted the star cornerback's most underrated trait in Sorensen's eyes.

“I think ... clearly it was great," Sorensen told reporters Wednesday of Ward's 2023 campaign. "He had great numbers, he had production, but we always knew he was really tough. I think it gets overlooked that he's a tough player as far as how he tackles. He's a really good tackler, which is essential in our defense. We ask a lot of our corners. Everyone has got to be able to tackle, run and hit, be physical, be violent. He does that, and it was just good to see how he got some recognition this year, and how he got a little bit more production on his PBUs and his interceptions.

"And I think he just keeps taking those steps as he matures and becomes that leader. He's just internally motivated and the group that he's around, I think all those guys motivate each other and can't wait to get him back."

Ward earned Second Team All-Pro honors for his efforts in 2023, leading the 49ers with five interceptions -- one for a touchdown -- to go along with an NFL-best 23 pass breakups.

The success came despite Ward's injury, which dates back four years to his time with the Kansas City Chiefs. The 28-year-old underwent successful surgery for the issue this offseason and expects to be back on the field for training camp.

“I was balling the second half of the season, so it really didn’t take much of a toll,” Ward said Tuesday of the injury. “I didn’t seem like it. [It was] just my day-to-day life. Just sitting down, my lower back started to hurt. Driving a car, sitting in the car for a long period of time, my body was just aching doing that.

“Once my back started to hurt, I’m only in my mid-20s. I felt like I was 35-40, damn near. I had to get [surgery] done when that started happening.”

Considering Ward put up All-Pro numbers as he dealt with his injury, there's no telling what the cornerback will achieve during the 2024 NFL season -- which also happens to be the final year of his 49ers contract.

As free agency looms for the defender, it's clear Sorensen isn't overlooking the tenacity Ward brings to the field.

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