49ers 2020 ‘Who Is?’ series: Dee Ford in final year with Niners?

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Dee Ford, 49ers

Dee Ford #55 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

49ers EDGE Dee Ford is a prolific pass-rusher, but the Niners may not be able to retain him beyond 2020.

The San Francisco 49ers are going to face tough decisions in 2021, and EDGE Dee Ford could easily be among those affected by the team’s current salary cap situation a little less than a year from now.

Ford, the prolific pass-rusher brought aboard from the Kansas City Chiefs via a trade during the 2019 offseason, enjoyed an up-and-down first year with the Niners, appearing in 11 games and registering 6.5 sacks en route to helping San Francisco reach Super Bowl LIV, ultimately losing to those same Chiefs.

When Ford was on the field, the 49ers defense was particularly potent. But nagging injuries, including both knee and hamstring setbacks, kept Ford from coming anywhere close to the career-high numbers he enjoyed with Kansas City back in his 2018 Pro Bowl campaign:

Dee Ford Defense & Fumbles Table
GameGameDefFumbTackTackTackTackTack
YearAgeTmNo.GGSPDFFSkCombSoloAstTFLQBHits
201423KAN5516011.584415
201524KAN5514524.023212611
201625KAN5515142110.03825131217
201726KAN5566112.01311247
2018*27KAN551616713.05542131329
201928SFO55112126.51410466
CareCare784371137.0151113384275
5 yr5 yrKAN67416930.5137103343669
1 yr1 yrSFO112126.51410466
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/23/2020.

 

There are plenty of reasons to suspect Ford bounces back from an injury-plagued year this upcoming season. Even if he does, though, there’s also a good chance the 49ers have to move on from his services, making him a cap casualty when 2021 rolls around.

As such, 2020 could prove to be a vital year for both Ford and San Francisco.

Unlike previous years, the Niners are getting to the point where cap space is going to be an issue. The team has to think about extensions for players like All-Pro tight end George Kittle, linebacker Fred Warner and eventually, Ford’s pass-rushing linemate, EDGE Nick Bosa.

And when looking at Ford’s contractual details beyond 2020, it’s not hard to understand why the 29 year old could be a cap casualty a year from now:

$4.8 million would be dead money, if Ford was to be cut, while $12.8 million would be generated in cap savings.

Ideally, the Niners would prefer Ford to stick around, as most elite-level defenses have at least two prolific pass-rushers at their disposal.

For that to happen, though, Ford would have to show some serious improvement over what he experienced last year.

Niner Noise’s “Who Is?” series explores what needs to happen here, why it doesn’t and what the future could hold.

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