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Jimmie Ward cleared for San Francisco 49ers camp

Peel the bubble wrap off rookie safety Jimmie Ward.

The first-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers has been cleared for the start of training camp on the heels of March surgery to repair the fifth metarsal bone in his right foot, according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area.

San Francisco never planned to unleash Ward during offseason sessions, but his name wasn't among the eight players named on the team's non-football and physically unable to perform lists.

The 49ers are pleased with the classroom prowess of the No. 30 overall pick, who is expected to compete for both San Francisco's nickel corner role and third safety spot behind veteran Antoine Bethea and second-year man Eric Reid.

"When you're skipping the practice part, you're skipping the most important part," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio recently said. "(Ward) has done everything he can under the circumstances to learn our defense and improve. But he's got to go play."

Seattle's collection of safeties remains the NFL's finest, but the 49ers have used first-rounders on the position two years running. A weakness heading into last season, the back end of San Francisco's defense has solved its depth problems heading into 2014.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" invites Bucky Brooks in-studio for a team-by-team AFC training camp preview.

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