Verrett, Ward emerging as leaders for Ryans' 49ers defense


The experience of the 49ers' defense will make DeMeco Ryans’ first season as defensive coordinator an easy transition. 

While the former Pro Bowl linebacker adjusts to his new role, a bevy of experienced players will offer support on the field. Jason Verrett and Jimmie Ward, in particular, feel a responsibility as veterans to take the reins as defensive leaders in the secondary. 

There are a few new faces amongst the defensive backs, but the roster is predominantly the same as the past few seasons. Verrett is heading into his third season with the club, and Ward has spent his entire seven-season career in Santa Clara. 

“I think that was the main reason why they were trying to get all the guys back here especially all the vets to kind of take over,” Verrett said on Wednesday. “This is our team. We have the coaches, but us as vets, we got to take the guys under our wing and obviously we want to try to get back to that Super Bowl.”  

Ward has been a part of the 49ers' secondary since the team drafted him in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. As he has progressed and matured as a player, he has become more vocal. Playing various roles on the defense makes him a valuable resource.  

Ward, like Verrett, feels a responsibility to assist in Ryans' transition as the head of the defense. 

“I feel like it’s everybody’s responsibility, especially the vets in the room to help any coach’s transition,” Ward said. “It’s part of everybody’s job to help step in and help him make the transition a lot easier.” 

The 49ers' secondary also includes Jaquiski Tartt, K’Waun Williams and Dontae Johnson. Between those five players, there are 33 seasons of NFL experience for the younger members of the defense to use as a reference. 

RELATED: 49ers' D-coordinator Ryans promises aggressive play this year

Verrett feels that the secondary is starting back up where they left off last season, with all gears in motion. 

"I think it’s awesome to have everybody and be able to build that chemistry going forward,” Verrett said. “I bonded with those guys. I continue to bond with them. K.K., [K'Waun Williams] Jimmie, Tartt, and Dontae [Johnson]. We are all about the same age. We all came into the NFL around the same year so we all got a decent amount of experience in this game. 

“I feel that it is showcasing out there, the camaraderie and the chemistry we are building and we just want to transform that to the season.” 


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