James Ward better known as Jimmie Ward was born in Racine, Wisconsin on July 18, 1991. He was the first round, the 30th overall pick of the San Francisco 49ers in the 2014 NFL Draft. He went to the Northern Illinois University. In his freshman year, he played in all 14 games. He was named as part of the third-team All-MAC in 2011. He was named as first-team All-MAC in 2012 and 2013. In 2013, he was also named third-team All-American.
He signed a four-year contract with the 49ers in 2014, and he made his debut in a game opposite the Dallas Cowboys. He ended his rookie year with 20 combined tackles, 19 of which are solo and two pass deflections after playing in eight games.