SF 49ers trade for Jordan Willis suggests Dee Ford’s health isn’t good

Jordan Willis #60 of the New York Jets tackles Leonard Fournette #27 of the Jacksonville Jaguars (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Jordan Willis #60 of the New York Jets tackles Leonard Fournette #27 of the Jacksonville Jaguars (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

The SF 49ers are trading with the NY Jets for EDGE Jordan Willis, calling into question if fellow EDGE Dee Ford’s health is a long-term concern.

The SF 49ers‘ outside pass rush was supposed to be the primary strength of the defense heading into 2020, but the first six weeks of the regular season have yielded disastrous results.

Of course, losing two of the team’s best edge rushers, Nick Bosa (torn ACL) and Dee Ford (back), for extended periods of time certainly influenced the Niners boasting a mere 10 sacks on the season, tied for 22nd overall in the league.

Bosa is out for the rest of the year, while Ford’s return remains unknown. Head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Wednesday he wasn’t anticipating Ford coming back until Week 11 at the soonest, and even that possible return remains up in the air.

Additionally, San Francisco lost veteran EDGE Ezekiel Ansah to a torn bicep after only two games played, so he’ll be lost for the year.

Currently, the SF 49ers are awfully shorthanded on the outside, and they’re still awaiting the return of defensive end Ronald Blair, who suffered a setback in his ACL recovery from last year’s injury.

So it makes some sense the Niners are taking a low-risk, potentially high-reward move on the trade market.

SF 49ers trade for NY Jets EDGE Jordan Willis

On Wednesday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported San Francisco was executing a trade with the NY Jets for 25-year-old EDGE Jordan Willis, who broke into the league as a third-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals out of Kansas State.

Willis spent his first two seasons in Cincy, primarily featured on special teams before being waived and then claimed by the Jets in September of 2019.

Jordan Willis Defense & Fumbles Table
2 yr2 yrCIN3221012.045321387
2 yr2 yrNYJ110111.074302

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/21/2020.

According to the report, the SF 49ers are sending off a 2022 sixth-round pick to New York in exchange for Willis and the Jets’ seventh-round selection in next year’s NFL Draft.

Willis had 11.5 sacks his senior season at Kansas State, going along with 17.5 tackles for a loss that year. But his transition over to the pro ranks hasn’t produced the same kind of pass-rushing results, as he’s managed only three quarterback takedowns in his career and had just 10 pressures over the last two-plus seasons.

Perhaps the Niners saw something in Willis they thought they could work with, if nothing more than the opportunity to provide some depth at a position where San Francisco clearly needs some help.

Next. 3 reasons why 49ers must be sellers at NFL trade deadline. dark

Willis will have to go through COVID-19 testing protocols before he can officially join the team for its next game on the road in Week 7 against the New England Patriots.