The San Francisco 49ers understood they needed to get better, defensively, in 2019. Especially after boasting the league's fifth worst scoring offense last season.

And while general manager John Lynch and Co. only made moderate additions within the secondary, the Niners did make a couple of substantial additions up front along the defensive line, namely acquiring edge rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa via a trade and the 2019 NFL Draft, respectively.

Ford, who recorded a career-high 13 sacks and an NFL-leading seven forced fumbles last season, is pegged to be San Francisco's weak-side pass-rusher. Bosa, who was widely viewed as the No. 1 prospect in this year's draft, missed a good chunk of his final year at Ohio State with an abdominal injury and subsequent recovery. He elected to sit out the rest of the year in preparation for the draft, and those injury concerns didn't affect his draft stock much at all.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that the 49ers are being viewed as having one of the most talented defensive lines in the NFL this season. And the folks over at Pro Football Focus are looking at both Ford and Bosa as players capable of having an immediate impact with their new team, part of 10 players pegged as being able to make a major difference right away.

"While the Lions were the worst edge group in the NFL last year, the 49ers were quite comfortably the second worst," PFF's Michael Renner wrote. "Ford will likely come down to earth a good ways from his 78 pressures and 91.0 pass-rushing grade from last year, but even two-thirds of that level would still be an improvement."

Ford ranked fifth on the list.

Bosa, meanwhile, ranked sixth.

"Ford gets the slight nod over Bosa, but don't be surprised if the latter turns out to be the star in San Francisco," Renner continued. "Health is really my only worry with Bosa at the NFL level, as Nick looks every bit as good as his brother Joey coming out. That's good news, as the elder Bosa racked up 59 pressures in only 12 games as a rookie."

It makes sense for Ford to be ranked ahead of Nick Bosa. After all, the latter has yet to take a snap at the NFL level. And while both the hype and potential are real, the rookie still has a lot to prove, as do all first-year players. Ford has already proven a lot, particularly last season.

In 2018, the Niners recorded 37 sacks, which was tied for 22nd in the league. Twelve of those came from defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, picking up those Pro Bowl numbers on the inside.

With Bosa and Ford now in the mix, however, one should expect the total number of 49ers sacks and pressures to increase dramatically.

And if PFF is right, it will happen right away.
  • Peter Panacy
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.

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