No. 1: 49ers EDGE Dee Ford
Another one of the Niners’ key acquisitions last season, EDGE Dee Ford made a massive difference when he was available. San Francisco’s pressure rate was 34.2 percent with Ford on the field compared to just 22.7 percent with him off it.
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The problem, though, was Ford was absent a lot while dealing with knee and hamstring issues, being limited to just 11 games and a shade below 22 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
As a result, Ford earned $70,409 per snap last season. That’s not exactly the kind of investment for which the 49ers were hoping.
Ford is signed through 2023, yet 2020 is the final year in which he has any guaranteed money. Things get weird for players who run out of guaranteed cash, as was the case with Mike Person and could be with Laken Tomlinson. Should San Francisco elect to part ways with Ford in 2021, the team would generate $12.8 million in cap space with $4.8 million in dead money. If 2022 is the year the 49ers elect to make Ford a cap casualty, the numbers would be $15.4 million and $3.2 million, respectively.
It’s likely the Niners need this kind of money to extend their best pass-rusher, Nick Bosa, to what could be the biggest contract for a defender in NFL history a few years down the road.
Simply put, San Francisco can’t afford to keep both once Bosa’s rookie contract becomes untenable.