Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

‘My whole entire body was affected’: 49ers pass rusher Dee Ford details dealing with chronic back issues

Oct 5, 2021 at 11:48 AM--

Some wondered if San Francisco 49ers pass rusher Dee Ford would ever play an NFL snap again. Ford never questioned that. He started dealing with a back injury after Week 1 last season and never returned to the field in 2020. Most felt that any contributions from Ford this season would be a bonus for the 49ers.

Ford has played in all four games this season and racked up three sacks in the process. Two of those came this past weekend against the Seattle Seahawks. Once again, Ford is making an impact on the Niners defense. That's pretty good for a player who many felt might retire.

Retirement, though, was never on Ford's mind.

"For me, personally, [the injury] was tough," Ford said this morning on KNBR's Murph & Mac show. "... I always believed if there's any possibility that I could get back, I'll take that. I don't care if it's 10 percent. If it's 10 percent, then I'm going to exercise my options."

Ford never gave up despite the ordeal of dealing with the symptoms of his injury. The veteran pass rusher went on to detail what followed that first game of last season.

Ford woke up one morning and could barely look down or straighten his leg. He knew something was seriously wrong. The defender immediately went to the team doctors and told them, "Something's not right."

A battery of tests followed. The initial thought was that Ford was dealing with a neck injury.

"Everything looked structurally OK," Ford explained. "I had some stenosis, and all of that in my neck. Long story short, we did every MRI known to man. Everything started gradually getting worse. I went from that to my symptoms [including] I was getting nauseous. Any time you're having compression of a spinal cord, you get very nauseous. You get numbness, tingling, all of that in all your limbs."

Since nothing was conclusive, Ford and the 49ers reached out to the doctor who performed the defender's first back surgery, Dr. Andrew Cordover. They learned that Ford suffered a herniated disc, but that wasn't the main issue.

"Really, after about three months, we found out that I was just basically, my whole spine was just chronically overused," Ford said. "I hit people for a living. It was sort of similar to someone who is born with a degenerative disc disease; similar to that.

"Basically, my whole entire body was affected. I had to sleep on my side for a whole year. It was pretty tough."

All Ford could do was take the situation day by day and work to get better. As players scattered after last season, the pass rusher stayed at the team's Santa Clara facility and worked. He felt he had so much football left in him and did what he could to ensure his playing days weren't behind him.

Surgery was an option for Ford. However, having undergone similar procedures in the past, another might have meant fusion surgery, which would have ended his NFL career. Regardless, Cordover told Ford that no surgery would repair the damage anyway.

"This is a chronic issue," Ford said. "Yeah, my disc may have had a new herniation in my L5; I think that's the disc ... If guys have these issues in their knees, our knees go bad. Once you degenerate so much muscle, you get into ligaments and tendons ... we all feel it. We get older, and you start to feel your knees start popping, clicking, and cracking. Well, that was my spine."

Ford added that he and the 49ers set up a plan during training camp to limit the pass rusher's snap counts and ramp up his workload as he progressed. That has bled into the season. Ford is averaging under 20 defensive snaps per game.

"I'll increase as I go," Ford said. "I'm still in [the process of ramping up]."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Ford below.

More San Francisco 49ers News

Kyle Shanahan shares what a dominant rushing attack says about the 49ers as a whole

By David Bonilla
Nov 27

When the San Francisco 49ers bullied their way to a Super Bowl appearance during the 2019 season, they did so with a dominant rushing attack. The Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers didn't have an answer for it in the playoffs. The 49ers have won their last two games with their patient yet punishing ground attack. San Francisco ran the football 44 times against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 10, nearly doubling their opponent's time of possession (39:03 to 20:57). When the 49ers first got their hands on the football, they set the tone for the game with an 11-minute drive, eventually winning 31-10. The 49ers offense opened the Week 11 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 20-play, 87-yard drive that lasted over 13 minutes. Again, it set the tone for

49ers plan to activate Dee Ford, Dre Greenlaw, hope both can play vs. Vikings

By David Bonilla
Nov 24

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke with reporters before Wednesday's practice. The team expects to activate veteran pass rusher Dee Ford and linebacker Dre Greenlaw from injured reserve this week and have both play against the Minnesota Vikings. "Dee Ford, we should activate tomorrow," Shanahan said. "We're not going to practice him today. We don't like him to go three days, so he'll get out there tomorrow, and hopefully, be good to go for Sunday." Ford landed on injured reserve on November 6 due to back issues. Greenlaw has been on injured reserve since September 18 due to a core muscle injury. This week is the linebacker's second of practice since his practice window opened. "He'll go today, and hopefully, he'll be ready to go this

49ers' Kyle Shanahan: Dre Greenlaw had a good practice, Dee Ford 'feeling great'

By David Bonilla
Nov 24

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw is on track to be activated from injured reserve after having his practice window opened last week. Head coach Kyle Shanahan hopes Greenlaw and defensive end Dee Ford can be activated in time for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings. That's the plan, for now. Ford did not practice during Wednesday's session but is expected to do so on Thursday. He's been on injured reserve since November 6 due to a back injury. Greenlaw underwent core muscle surgery and has been on injured reserve since September 18. "Greenlaw did a good job out there today," Shanahan said during KNBR's Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks show. "He'll go meet with the trainers now and tell them how it felt and stuff. Dee, we don't want to put

49ers officially open practice window for Dee Ford

By David Bonilla
Nov 25

The San Francisco 49ers announced that they have opened the practice window for defensive end Dee Ford. Ford has been on injured reserve since November 6 due to a back injury. He is expected to practice with his teammates on Thursday. Head coach Kyle Shanahan hopes to have Ford and linebacker Dre Greenlaw available on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. "Dee, we don't want to put him [out there] three days in a row, just because of how he's been since he's been here," Shanahan said during a KNBR interview on Wednesday. "So, we're waiting until tomorrow to start to practice him. So, tomorrow's a big practice. I know he's feeling great, from what he said, so


Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone