Charvarius Ward

Ward eyeing first All-Pro season under new 49ers DC Wilks

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Charvarius "Mooney" Ward is a Super Bowl champion, but there's one achievement the 49ers cornerback has yet to obtain -- an All-Pro nod.

Under the guidance of San Francisco's new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, Ward is hoping to reach that next step in his career.

"Coach Wilks [is] an OG," Ward said Thursday after practice. "He’s real smart, got a lot of knowledge in the game. I like his scheme. He’s kind of adding his own wrinkle to things, but it’s still mainly the same defense. But I feel like he’s got a lot of knowledge amongst the DBs. I get a lot of 1-on-1 work with him, and hopefully, he’ll take me to the next level, and all the other DBs as well. ...

"For me, [the next step is] All-Pro, hopefully."

Ward is entering his second season with the 49ers after four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, and the five-year NFL vet is hoping to benefit from Wilks' status as a secondary sage. San Francisco signed the corner to a significant three-year, $40.5 million contract in free agency last offseason, and he appeared in 17 games during the 2022 NFL season with one interception and a career-high 11 passes defended.

Wilks is a renowned defensive-back guru and is focused on helping the secondary produce more takeaways in 2023 while allowing fewer explosive plays. Ward this season is looking to improve upon his coverage on opposing vertical threats, and the defensive back has been learning 1-on-1 from Wilks in training camp.

Back in June during OTAs, Wilks laid out his expectations for Ward and what the cornerback needs to do to achieve them.

"I think he has, just as a person, tremendous character," Wilks said of Ward. "I just like how he takes care of his business on and off the field. I watched a lot of tape on him before I got here, and then since I've been here, so he has the skill set to be one of the top in the league.

"And he and I talked about that, so it's all about him just being locked in and focused this year and having consistency."

Wilks plans on taking a similar approach with Nick Bosa, who remains away from camp as he and the 49ers work out a contract extension, saying in June he and the star defensive end have had conversations about his Hall of Fame potential. It's clear the new DC understands the talent he inherited when he took over the NFL's top defense, and he plans on helping each 49er reach the best version of themselves as players.

And those stars are helping their younger counterparts learn the ways of the league, too, with Ward explaining on Thursday the promise of young defensive backs such as rookie safety Ji'Ayir Brown and cornerbacks Ambry Thomas, Deommodore Lenoir and undrafted rookie D'Shawn Jamison.

All have the chance to excel under Wilks, affectionately described by Lenoir as the "Godfather of the DBs." And while Ward is the room's top defensive back, he certainly will look to become one of the best in the league this season.

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