SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Rookie defensive back Jimmie Ward sustained another Jones fracture in his right foot in Nov. 9's win over the New Orleans Saints, which led to his placement on season-ending injured reserve Nov. 15.
Ward, the San Francisco 49ers' first round pick in May's draft, was held out of last February's scouting combine because his initial Jones fracture was discovered there by doctors. But he still participated in his pro day, running a 4.47 40-yard dash on the injured foot. He had surgery March 11 and his second eight months later for the second injury.
Repair of the initial injury required surgery where a titanium screw was put into his foot to stabilize the fifth metatarsal, where a Jones fracture occurs.
"(A screw) was bent, so they had to take that screw out and put another screw in there - a bigger screw because there was too much room in there the first time," Ward said Tuesday, making a rare appearance in the new locker room inside Levi's Stadium.
Ward said the new screw is roughly three inches long and he will likely have to keep it in his foot through next season. He is unsure if and when the screw can be removed. "That will probably hold up better than the first one," he said.
Ward was taken with the 30th-overall selection in May's draft, adding to the list of players dealing with injuries 49ers GM Trent Baalke has drafted in recent seasons that includes Tank Carradine, Marcus Lattimore, Quinton Dial, Keith Reaser, Trey Millard, Brandon Thomas, and Kaleb Ramsey.
Ward was the only one of those picks to see consistent playing time before getting hurt, although Dial and Carradine have seen their roles increase lately. Lattimore has since retired while Millard, Reaser, Thomas and Ramsey will not play this season.
Ward's initial injury caused him to miss his first offseason program with the team and didn't return until training camp, where he promptly earned the nickel corner job, which is on the field roughly 60 percent of the time.
Playing one of the defenses more difficult positions, Ward allowed 18 catches on 25 targets, including four touchdowns for a passer rating of 134.3 when targeted, according to Pro Football Focus. He allowed four touchdowns in coverage, including three to Bears' wideout Brandon Marshall in September's loss to open Levi's Stadium.
When asked about what stood out about his rookie season, Ward had revenge on his mind from that night.
"Brandon Marshall. That’s all I got to say. I’m going to leave it at his name," Ward said.
Ward said he will be on crutches for another week and have an x-ray the week of Jan. 19. He plans on being a full participant in the team's offseason program starting in the spring.