49ers’ Ward airs Baalke grievances eight years after the fact originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SANTA CLARA — Jimmie Ward would like to thank Trent Baalke in Jacksonville this weekend but the safety also has a grievance to air with the ex-49ers general manager.
Baalke was the man responsible for the 49ers selecting Ward with the No. 30 overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, but the 30-year-old shared a moment he will never forget with the current general manager for the Jaguars.
Ward shared on Thursday that the two have not kept in touch but he will always be thankful to Baalke for his eight seasons wearing the red and gold.
“I still think about the day that, I think it was after the [New York] Giants game, playing cover-3,” Ward recalled. “He came up to me and was like, ‘Jimmie, you don’t know how to play cover-3?’ I’m like ‘I’m the buzz player. I’m doing the right thing. You need to look at your other guys. Who ever is in the hook be pushing the hook on the slant.’ That’s something I’ll never forget.
“I couldn’t say that back then. I can say it now, because the players aren’t here, and Trent isn’t here. [I thought] ‘I know I’m a rookie so you’re going to pin it on me but I can’t play the hook and the buzz.’ All right, but shout out to Trent. I wanted to get that off my chest. I’ve been waiting for eight years to get that off my chest.”
Baalke also was infamous for being seen on the practice field with players in Santa Clara, most notably with the secondary. Ward shared that the sighting of a general manager on the practice field is never a good sign. It usually is in indicator to the players that something less than positive is afoot.
While current 49ers general manager John Lynch can be seen around the field during practice, Ward believes that it is a very different concept with the Hall of Fame safety.
“John was a player though, he can’t help it,” Ward said. “He has gold jacket, and that’s the difference. Trent never played, right? You can’t keep John off the field. John probably still wants to play. He really doesn’t say too much.”
After Ward intercepted two passes by Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford in the 49ers’ win Monday night, Lynch gave him a handshake and a hug on the field.
Baalke, who was in the 49ers personnel department in some capacity from 2005-2016, still has fingerprints on the current squad. Along with Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Arik Armstead and Dontae Johnson all are products of the departed general manager. Baalke’s other notable picks while with the 49ers are DeForest Buckner, Eric Reid and Aldon Smith.
Baalke joined the Jaguars in Feb. 2020 as the director of player personnel and was promoted to interim general manager in November when David Caldwell was relieved of his duties. Baalke was officially named to the position at the end of the season.