- Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer
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First-round draft pick Jimmie Ward had an interception.
Second-rounder Carlos Hyde averaged 6.3 yards per carry.
And fifth-round selection Aaron Lynch had a sack and deflected a pass.
Coach Jim Harbaugh might not have felt the 6.1 earthquake centered near Napa that rocked Northern California early Sunday morning, but he did notice the aforementioned trio’s contributions that afternoon.
“He’s playing strong and he’s coming along, coming along pretty darn good,” Harbaugh said. “Just making improvements every day, really. He’s learning and he’s listening, so, that’s really encouraging. Got high hopes for him.”
Said Lynch of his sack of Brad Sorenson: “It makes me happy because when I do that, it’s better for the whole defense. If I can get a good bull-rush off, that sets up the tackles and the ends or the blitzing linebackers to get to the quarterback. If you know you can push the tackle into the quarterback’s lap, it stops him from being able to make a pass and it helps out our DBs and it helps out our linebackers and our other guys on the defensive line.”
Indeed, it was Lynch who tipped Sorenson’s pass that Ward was able to corral.
Ward, a hybrid safety-cornerback, has been seeing much of his time in the nickel defense. He said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, secondary coach Ed Donatell and assistant secondary coach Greg Jackson did a “good job of pampering me” in his recovery from a foot injury.
“But, now since I’ve been back [Perrish] P-Cox was the other nickel back, he’s been helping me out a lot,” Ward said. “I think film study, because before this game I was watching a lot of film, and I think that helped me out too. So, I think good coaching and a lot of film (helped).”
The only negative when it came to the 49ers’ rookie class is when backup center Marcus Martin, a third-round pick, suffered a knee injury. Harbaugh did not have an update on his condition when asked after the game.