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Jimmie Ward says ‘no’ to playing cornerback

SANTA CLARA — Jimmie Ward doesn’t know where he’ll be playing next season, but he does know that wherever he winds up at the end of free agency, he won’t be lining up anywhere at cornerback.

The first thing on Ward’s mind, like every Niner, is Super Bowl LIV. But next up may be his next team.

Ward, who played this season on a one-year contract, made the pitch for himself Friday before the 49ers depart for Miami.

“It means a lot because I might not be here next year,” Ward said of the stakes for him next Sunday. “It’s reality. It’s free agency …

“A lot of coaches — every level that I’ve played at — they try me at corner. They see corner inside of me. That’s cool, it means they respect me as a player. But I feel I can change the game at safety.”

His response to any team that approaches him about playing cornerback?

“I’m good,” he said. “I can play it, but I don’t want to play corner.”

Although he’s had the stability of playing for the same franchise his entire career, that’s about the only stability Ward has experienced. Kyle Shanahan is the fourth coach he’s played for in six seasons.

Since being drafted 30th overall in 2014, this season was only the second time he played in three quarters or more of the 49ers games. Broken forearm. Fractured collarbone. Broken finger. Ward couldn’t catch a break. His health prevented him from winning the starting safety job — until this year. He bounced around the secondary and struggled to live up to expectations for a first-round pick. It led to calls for the 49ers to move on after last season.

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