SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers made their first big move of free agency, agreeing with former Kansas City cornerback Charvarius Ward on a three-year contract.
A person familiar with the deal confirmed it Monday night, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract can’t be signed until the start of the new league year on Wednesday.
ESPN first reported the agreement and said it could be worth up to $42 million with $26.7 million guaranteed.
The contract with Ward gives San Francisco needed help in the secondary and is the richest one handed out to a cornerback by the team in six seasons under coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.
Ward spent the past four seasons in Kansas City after being acquired by the Chiefs in a trade with the Cowboys. Ward had originally signed with Dallas in 2018 as an undrafted free agent.
Ward became a starter in Kansas City in his second season and helped the Chiefs beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl that year. He has four interceptions and 29 passes defensed in 56 career games.
Over the last three seasons, Ward has allowed opponents to catch less than half of the passes thrown with him in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus, as he has developed into one of the game’s better cover cornerbacks.
Ward’s addition fills a void on San Francisco’s defense. The Niners struggled to get consistent play after Jason Verrett went down with a season-ending knee injury in the opener last year. Emmanuel Moseley and rookie Ambry Thomas provided the best play and were starters at the end of the year but adding a proven option was a priority this offseason.
San Francisco began free agency by losing two key free agents with guard Laken Tomlinson agreeing to a contract with the New York Jets and defensive tackle D.J. Jones agreeing with the Denver.
The other big question hanging over the Niners is the future of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco plans to hand the offense over to last year’s No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance and is looking for a trade partner to send back a pick for Garoppolo and his salary of more than $24 million.