No team is immune to signing bad contracts, but this particular 49ers deal has to go down as the worst on the current edition of the 2022 roster.
Well, at least the Niners would undo the subsequent extension they offered, as Ford was the key figure in a common tag-and-trade scenario coming off an impressive 2018 Pro Bowl season in which he recorded a career-best 13 sacks and led the league with seven forced fumbles.
It’s anyone’s guess whether or not Ford would have played out 2019 on the franchise tag, and there’s no doubting he helped San Francisco reach the Super Bowl that year despite appearing on only 34 percent of his new team’s defensive snaps that regular season, nevertheless recording 6.5 sacks in the process.
However, the 49ers gave Ford a massive five-year, $85 million extension with $20.5 million fully guaranteed, per Over the Cap, which meant he made $20.27 million in 2019, panning out to $89,671 per snap.
Not exactly a top-end investment.
49ers contract value made worse by Dee Ford injury history
Ford dealt with hamstring ailments and other injuries his first year with the Niners, but 2020 revealed a significant back injury that forced him to miss all but one game that year, the season opener.
After restructuring his deal the previous offseason, Ford nevertheless earned $14.5 million for his little efforts that year, which cast doubts on whether or not San Francisco could retain him in 2021.
Financially speaking, though, it had to. The 49ers couldn’t simply cut Ford because of his injury guarantees, and he nevertheless made it back onto the field in 2021 for six games, picking up an additional three sacks in the process before reverting back to injured reserve for the rest of the year.
Taking into account all three years Ford has been on the Niners roster, he’s made the following amounts in each season:
- 2019: $20,265,625 (226 defensive snaps)
- 2020: $14,500,000 (46 defensive snaps)
- 2021: $7,000,000 (106 defensive snaps)
Sure, bad contract numbers at the time, but we’re talking about now, entering 2022. And not surprisingly, Ford’s cap hits are still bad.
Dee Ford, the 49ers’ worst contract entering 2022
OK, so some may argue San Francisco’s worst contract this upcoming season is that of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who is scheduled to earn almost $27 million despite being dangled as trade bait.
Yet the 49ers can clear all but $1.4 million of that if he’s traded or outright released, essentially meaning they can easily get out from under it with little ramifications.
Not so much with Ford.
Despite yet another restructure, which pushed off his would-be 2022 cap hit into future seasons and through 2026, the Niners have to wait until after June 1 to part ways with him, generating $1.12 million in cap savings but costing a whopping $5.83 million in dead money.
In 2023, it’s not much better. San Francisco will save $2.76 million in cap space but will still owe $5.83 million more in dead money.