Among all the players on the 49ers roster, EDGE Dee Ford remains a vital cog in the defense. His return should not be undervalued.
With a disappointing 2020 season that was littered with injured players throughout the entire roster, San Francisco will be looking to get back into the playoff hunt and that elusive sixth Super Bowl victory.
And the Niners have a good chance to make an early start, with the Lions expected to be near the bottom of the NFC for the season.
Ford’s return would normally be one of the bigger stories from a personnel standpoint for San Francisco, but the return of Ford’s partner in crime, EDGE Nick Bosa, has put Ford on the backburner somewhat.
The return of Bosa, the crown jewel of the defensive line, is certainly a big story worthy of attention from the 49ers faithful. But they shouldn’t overlook how important Ford will be if the team is to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Why Dee Ford matters so much to 49ers in 2021
The Niners’ defensive philosophy is predicated on one thing: consistent pressure on the quarterback without the use of blitzing. This enables the team to apply more defenders in coverage while making it harder for the opposing offense.
In 2019, this worked perfectly behind a healthy defensive line, and it got San Francisco to the Super Bowl. In 2020, this backfired after a defensive line decimated by injury, including Bosa and Ford both lost for the year after just one full game played apiece, couldn’t put the same pressure on the opposition.
Bosa can do it all, while Ford will be saved for passing situations at this point in his career. But it’s in this capacity that he’s a very vital cog in the 49ers’ playoff hopes.
The Niners lack a clear No. 2 pass-rusher without Ford at the helm and thus would be missing the final piece of their defensive line. Fellow linemen like Arden Key and Kentavius Street are intriguing players, but neither has demonstrated they can definitely be that guy.
Having Bosa back could be the difference between a disappointing season and the playoffs, but having Ford with him could be the difference between playoffs and the Super Bowl.
It all starts on Week 1, and it’ll sure be interesting to see if the now-healthy San Francisco defensive line can begin to wreak havoc on the rest of the NFL.