Former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward intends to sign a three-year deal worth up to $42 million, including $26.7 million guaranteed, with the San Francisco 49ers, his agency, Universal Sports & Entertainment Management, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday.
Ward, who turns 26 on May 16, has been a regular in the Chiefs’ starting lineup since late in the 2018 season, when he joined the team as a rookie after a trade with the Dallas Cowboys.
Ward was a significant part of the Chiefs’ defensive turnaround this past season. He is big enough to play press-man coverage and was an excellent tackler during the regular season, missing only 5% of his attempts, according to Pro Football Focus data. That was the lowest rate for a cornerback since 2019.
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In four seasons with the Chiefs, Ward played 67 games with 53 starts. He had four interceptions.
He appeared to put the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIII with his interception of a Tom Brady pass late in the fourth quarter of the 2018 AFC Championship Game, but teammate Dee Ford was penalized for lining up offside to nullify the play. The Patriots wound up winning in overtime to advance to the Super Bowl.
His addition will be the most significant commitment the 49ers have made at cornerback since coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch arrived in 2017. But it was also a needed one after the Niners cycled through eight starting corners in 2021 because of various injuries.
And though San Francisco finished sixth in the NFL in passing yards allowed, the Niners also were 29th in completion percentage allowed (68.3%) and 26th in opponent QBR (51.3).
Ward should be able to help in both areas. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he allowed the second-lowest completion percentage among defensive backs last season at 45% and the lowest average separation on targets (2 yards).
Ward’s contract would indicate he’s set to step in and start opposite Emmanuel Moseley, who is entering the final year of a two-year contract he signed in 2021. With nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams an unrestricted free agent, the Niners could turn to a rotation that involved Ward starting opposite Moseley with Moseley moving into the slot in nickel packages and second-year cornerback Ambry Thomas on the outside.
ESPN’s Adam Teicher, Nick Wagoner and Kevin Seifert contributed to this report.