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

Dee Ford #55 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Dee Ford #55 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, 49ers
Dee Ford #55 and Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Projecting Dee Ford’s immediate role, future with 49ers

Dee Ford isn’t going anywhere this season. Barring a massive injury setback, Ford will be on San Francisco’s 53-man roster by Week 1 and will be looked at as a primary pass-rushing specialist alongside Nick Bosa.

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The Niners regularly rotated Bosa and Ford on both the strong- and weak-side parts of the formation in pass-rushing situations last year, and one could expect more of the same again. Whether or not Ford is out there prominently in base downs is anyone’s guess, although one might suspect the 49ers keep him off the field in rushing situations to save any wear and tear on his knee, allowing other run defenders like defensive end Solomon Thomas to see more field time.

Yet the increase in nickel formations the past few years ultimately means Ford will play a significant role, and the hope is he’ll be on the field much more than the roughly 22 percent of defensive snaps seen a year ago.

Beyond that, however, it’s anyone’s guess.

The Niners have identified their top outside pass-rusher in Bosa. He’s the cornerstone moving forward, and the inevitability of a massive contract for the former Ohio State product has to be on the minds of general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan. At some point, whenever that is, Bosa’s new contract will ultimately push Ford’s own deal off the table.

And the team’s other cap considerations could inevitably mean Ford becomes a cap casualty as soon as 2021.

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There are a lot of working parts and X-factors yet to be determined here. But there’s a strong chance Ford winds up seeing 2020 as his final season in San Francisco.