The defensive back, chosen 30th overall, is expected to be out until at least July as he recovers from a surgically repaired foot.
Ward, a Northern Illinois product who signed a four-year deal worth over $7 million on Thursday, did not participate in the NFL Scouting Combine after doctors discovered a break in the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot.
"They basically put a screw in the metatarsal; it was fractured," Ward told CSN Bay Area. "They took some bone marrow out of my hip and inserted it into the crack to help speed up the process."
The Niners' brass knew about the injury beforehand but is banking on Ward, a college safety, to play nickel back -- a position that general manager Trent Baalke pegs to play 60 percent of defensive snaps as a de facto starter.
With the departures of Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown to the Raiders, along with incumbent Chris Culliver's lingering off-field issues, the onus will be on Ward to produce on an accelerated learning curve when he's healthy.