On the field defensive end Dee Ford is a dominant force. A blazing quick edge rusher who can completely wreck a passing offense with the pressure he puts on the quarterback. When the 49ers traded for Ford and paired him with defensive end Nick Bosa, they created a 1-2 punch on the defensive line that propelled the 49ers into title contention. It's hard to find anything bad to say about Dee Ford, but there is one obvious flaw in his game: his ability to stay on the field.

Through 6 seasons of his career Ford has only one when he played all 16 games. The 49ers knew this when they traded for him in 2019, and while Ford missed nearly half the season due to injury, his return in the playoffs aided the 49ers defense on its road to the Super Bowl.

Only one player on the 49ers is paid more than Ford, and that man is quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. If Ford can play all 16 games, he will earn every dollar. He is that much of a difference maker. Hopefully for 49ers fans Dee Ford can stay healthy in 2020, because if he does, he could play a big part in returning this team to the Super Bowl.

2019 Performance


Dee Ford was a monster when he was on the field. In the 10 games that Ford played in the regular season he recorded 6.5 sacks, 14 tackles and 2 forced fumbles. His influence was bigger than individual numbers though, when he was off the field the 49ers defense struggled to come up with sacks. In the 6 games when Ford was sidelined his line mate Arik Armstead registered just 2 sacks, when Ford was in the lineup Armstead produced 8 sacks. The outside pressure brought by Ford allowed inside rushers to clean up and sack the QB regularly. Pro Football Focus graded Ford at an 84.4. Players graded similarly were Arizona ED Chandler Jones (84.9), Chicago ED Khalil Mack (86.2) and Philadelphia ED Brandon Graham (84.8).

2020 Cost


Ford's production comes with a hefty price tag. In 2020 Ford carries a $15.8 million cap hit. If traded or released prior to 6/1/20 that cap hit would be lowered to $6 million and free up $9 million in cap space.

Future Outlook


Paraag Marathe is a cap wizard. When signing Ford, Marathe built into the contract what is essentially a 2-year escape clause. After 2020, the 49ers can straight out cut Ford and only accrue a $4 million cap hit in 2021, essentially voiding the rest of his deal. If Ford can't stay a healthy this is a very viable option for the 49ers. Ford is scheduled to average $18 million a year in the final 3 years of his deal running 2021-2023. As talented as Ford is, the 49ers may not be able to justify that spending in 2021 and this may very well be the final season Ford plays in San Francisco.



Next: No. 4 - DeForest Buckner