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3 reasons why the 49ers should not move on from Dee Ford

Mar 9, 2022 at 12:13 PM

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Dee Ford is set to enter his ninth season in the NFL. Ford is an edge rusher for the San Francisco 49ers, brought in on third downs with one assignment—get to the quarterback. The Kansas City Chiefs drafted Ford in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. In 2019, the Chiefs traded him to the 49ers for a 2020 second-round draft pick and the team then signed him to a five-year, $87.5 million deal. Let's revisit the breakdown of his initial contract with the 49ers, as reported by Tom Pelissero:

In March of 2021, Ford restructured his deal with the 49ers, creating $11 million in cap space by adding two more years to the defensive end's contract for $24 million, per NFL Network, which helped the 49ers get the mega-deal done for their All-Pro left tackle, Trent Williams.

Ford's best season with the 49ers was in 2019, the season San Francisco went to the Super Bowl and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 31-20. Ford's 2019 regular season was pretty good without bringing back those vivid nightmares. According to Pro Football Reference, Ford played in 11 games, recording 6.5 sacks, 14 total tackles, six tackles for loss, six quarterback hits, one pass deflection, and two forced fumbles. He played in all three games during the playoffs and recorded one sack, four combined tackles, and three quarterback hits.

Unfortunately, as great a defensive end as he is, Ford's injury history dates back to his playing days in Kansas City. Since Ford's trade to the 49ers, he has been diagnosed with five different injuries. On August 1, 2019, he was diagnosed with a patellar tendon sprain. On November 17, 2019, he had a grade two hamstring strain. On December 8, 2019, he had the same injury. On August 23, 2020, he had a calf pull, and on September 17, 2020, he was placed on IR with lower lumbar muscle spasms.

With all of these injuries, why should the 49ers keep Ford? Reason number one: Ford did a solid for the team. Without him restructuring his contract, the San Francisco 49ers would not have been able to sign Trent Williams and other free agents. Ford adding more years to his contract allowed the 49ers to free up $11 million. So essentially, it's safe to say that Ford is the reason the 49ers have the best left tackle in football.

Reason number two is his production on the football field. In 2021, the 49ers were able to produce 48 sacks, and Ford recorded three of them. He also recorded five combined tackles and a forced fumble. He played in six games before he was shut down for the season. Ford started the 2021 season off hot. While he is 30 years old, when healthy, he's the perfect complimentary piece to the young phenom Nick Bosa, who finished the 2021 season with 15.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. If you think back, Bosa got off to a hot start as well, mainly because of the attention Ford demanded. Offensive lines didn't know which player to double team. Ford could beat you with his speed and technique and occasionally win with his power. He was the best edge player when it came to containing the outside. Once again, having Ford enables others to perform at their best.

The last reason is the most obvious. Many don't like to hear about the money, but it always comes down to the capital. According to OverTheCap, Ford will become a free agent in 2023, a void year for the 49ers. As noted above, Ford extended his contract for two years. His contract has an $11.9 million cap hit in 2022. If the 49ers were to release him pre-June 1, the dead cap hit would be $14.4 million. The 49ers won't save any money, and they will have to spend about $2.5 million to release him. Ford's post-June 1 numbers are slightly different. His dead cap after June 1 is $9.5 million, so the 49ers could save about $2.4 million in 2022. The 49ers have two options: spend $2.5 million or save $2.4 million. Is Ford's production worth the savings?

Many fans want to move from Ford because he appears injury-prone. Many fans are traumatized from the Trent Baalke era, drafting injured players and hoping they will become stars. The main difference, in this case, is that Ford is better than any of those players drafted, and he's still one of the premier speed rushers in the league. If Ford can find a way to stay healthy, he's worth the savings. It's a big if, but that's what makes the 49ers and its fans, The Faithful.
  • Written by:
    Wayne Breezie is a 49ers content creator. He had his first guest appearance on Ronbosports in 2012. He began writing for a Facebook group called the League of the 49ers. Next, he began writing for Nothing But Niners in 2017. In 2018, Wayne Breezie made his debut on YouTube’s Nothing But Niners show. In 2019, he started his podcast called Nitty Gritty Niners. After putting the pen down for several years, Breezie saw an opportunity to write for His first published article was in January of 2022 with 49ersCap, and he currently writes and produces weekly podcasts.
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