NEW YORK, New York - The 49ers' most recent first-round pick is done for the season.
Ward sustained a Jones fracture to his foot in the offseason discovered at the scouting combine in February that prevented him from participating. But it didn't prevent San Francisco from taking him with the 30th-overall pick in May's draft. Ward's latest injury is unknown, but it is in the same foot, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thursday.
Ward played well in his rookie season, taking over the nickel position from departed veteran Carlos Rogers, who signed a free-agent deal with the Oakland Raiders after the 49ers cut him to save upwards of $6 million in salary.
A former do-it-all safety at Northern Illinois, Ward transitioned to the slot corner role with the 49ers allowing four touchdowns in coverage, including one to Saints rookie Brandon Cooks in the game he suffered the injury. The other three came against talented Bears wideout Brandon Marshall in Ward's second game as a pro.
Perrish Cox, who is having an outstanding season after coming in as a reserve, will kick inside and play the nickel position with Ward out. Cox manned the slot in the 49ers' first two playoff wins last season while Rogers was out with a hamstring injury.
With Tramaine Brock unlikely to play against New York with a balky hamstring and Chris Cook already on injured reserve, rookie corner Dontae Johnson will likely get a bulk of the snaps.
Ward's move off the roster allowed for San Francisco to add Aldon Smith to the active 53. The NFL had granted the 49ers a roster exemption to allow Smith to practice leading up the team's game against the New York Giants. That exemption would have gone away if Smith was apart of the active 46 for the game.
Ward, who played 51 percent of the team's defensive snaps and broke up two passes, becomes the second key figure on the 49ers defense to hit injured reserve this week. All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis (toe) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. And the future of fellow inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman remains very much in the air after undergoing an MRI on his injured left knee last week.
San Francisco has until Tuesday to allow Bowman to practice to make him eligible to play this season. If Bowman's 21-day practice window is not open, he must remain out for all of 2014 after tearing his left ACL and MCL in last January's conference title game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, who has been on IR with the return designation after sustaining a torn biceps in training camp, was not re-added to the roster for the game against the Giants. New York's offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo uses three receivers on roughly 75 percent of the snaps, making it unlikely Dorsey would have played a high number of snaps regardless. Second-year defensive lineman Quinton Dial is likely to get the majority of time at nose tackle Sunday.
Dial replaced incumbent starter Ian Williams after he left the win over the Saints with a fractured fibula. Williams is 14 months removed from breaking his ankle early in 2013 which required four surgeries. He is also a candidate for injured reserve, although the 49ers have yet to make that move.