When the San Francisco 49ers signed defensive end Dee Ford in 2019, they figured Ford would put opposing signal-callers on their backs. Instead, Ford has had multiple back issues himself, causing him to miss a bevy of games in the red and gold.
After missing 15 games last season, how much does 49ers general manager John Lynch expect to see of the former Pro Bowl performer? That remains unclear, but Lynch says that when Ford is on the field this season, he’ll look like himself, not the “watered-down” version that 49ers fans have been accustomed to.
“I think the most encouraging thing is there were times throughout last year and throughout this offseason where it was really unclear: Are we going to have (Ford) or not?” Lynch said Wednesday on KNBR. “The greatest news to me is, yeah, we are going to have him — and not just like a watered-down version of him. He has looked like the Dee Ford we went out and traded for. And, man, if we can carry that into the season — if he can bring that — watch out.”San Francisco Chronicle/KNBR
Ford’s return to his old self is a potential game-changer for the 49ers. His signing was hailed as such, but his multiple injures have limited him to just 12 games in two seasons, often looking like a lesser player, as Lynch points out.
That, along with DE Nick Bosa’s injury problems, has left the 49ers with a bit of a void at speed pass-rusher, bringing in the likes of ex-Raiders DE Arden Key as a fail-safe. San Francisco also has newly-signed DE Samson Ebukam, which could cement Ford as a situational player until further notice.
But if Ford looks like the player Lynch thought he was getting in 2019, he’ll play most of the snaps in no time. If that happens, the 49ers will be that much closer to reaching the Super Bowl yet again.