San Francisco 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward has a sweet reason he's crediting for his improved play this season — his one-year-old daughter Amani. Ward, who leads the NFL with 19 pass break-ups, believes him and his young daughter getting closer is a driving factor for his performance this year.

“The past month, my daughter has started smiling when she sees me and coming to me more,” Ward said. “At first, she used to love on her mama so much, I couldn’t really get close to her. Now since she turned 1, she has started to smile every time she sees me,” via NBC Sports Bay Area's Jennifer Lee Chan.

Before they started connecting, Ward could not understand why it was hard for him and his daughter to get closer.

“It was on my conscience,” Ward said. “Why can't I connect to my daughter? This is my seed. I couldn't connect with her at all, and it was hurting my feelings. It was on my mind a lot. I’m not trying to make excuses, but ever since we got closer, I've been balling … When you're not stressed at home, when everything is at peace and at ease on the outside, it will be easier in here. It definitely helped me out. When I'm clear and focused, I'm the best in the league, but when you get here and you have other stuff on your mind, it's a hard job going against great All-Pro players.”

The close father-daughter relationship certainly seems like it's translating on the field. Not only is Ward coming up with clutch pass break-ups, but the secondary continues to improve for the 49ers. Against the Philadelphia Eagles this past week, Ward and the secondary locked up the Eagles' receivers on many plays until the pass rush started getting to Jalen Hurts. They gave up some chunk plays, but also stayed tight with the receivers on numerous other plays. Outside of the Eagles matchup, Ward has become matched up more against No. 1 receivers, and has locked down good players like D.K. Metcalf.