Defensive end Dee Ford has become a fixture on the San Francisco 49ers injury report. Every week, hes listed. But every game, hes played.
As Ford deals with knee tendinitis and irritation of the quadriceps muscle, the 49ers have picked his spots on the field. By using him as a situational pass-rusher, San Francisco has been able to get 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles from Ford while using the former Auburn standout on 39 percent of the 49ers defense snaps.
Youre going to have nicks and bruises, Ford said during an appearance on KNBR-FM in San Francisco. Well, its not bruised; I wish it was. Ive been in situations where Ive had to handle worser things, so my maintenance, you have to keep it strong. Weve got a great strength staff, a great trainer, so were on a great plan each week, so I got to put in a little extra work, but Im the man for the job and Ill be ready to go. If I can play, Im going to play.
Ford recorded 13 sacks and led the NFL with seven forced fumbles for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018.
The 49ers obtained Ford in March, sending a second-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft to Kansas City after the Chiefs had placed their franchise tag on the pass-rusher to keep him off the free-agent market.
San Francisco signed Ford to a five-year, $85.5 million contract and addressed his left-knee condition by having Ford get platelet-rich plasma injections while missing about four weeks of the training camp/preseason period.
I love my teammates, and thats a real thing, Ford said of his move to San Francisco. I know a lot of teammates say that, but weve been building chemistry since OTAs, so where were at right now as team is special, special, especially upfront.
San Francisco is the NFL’s only undefeated team after winning four games last season. The 49ers defense has given up the fewest total yards and the fewest passing yards in the NFL in 2019.
A key component to San Francisco’s defensive success has been its pass rush. The 49ers rank fourth in the NFL with 30 sacks.
All four guys have to work together, and we really put in the effort to work together, Ford said of the 49ers defensive line. “You can look around the league. Theres a lot of D-lines that its just not the same result and some play as individuals. Im not throwing shade, but we really work together. And thats a lot of credit to Kris Kocurek, our (defensive-line) coach. He really helped us glue the thing together and play together. We do not play as individuals.
“As you can see, you never know who’s going to have — that’s the crazy part about these games: You don’t know who’s going to have the hot hand upfront. You never know. But we all play together. Nobody’s trying to make the big play. Everybody wants to get sacks, of course, but nobody’s coming out of what we do to try to make a play, and that’s the special thing about this front.”
Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa leads the 49ers with seven sacks, but 10 San Francisco players have recorded sacks in 2019.
I think theyre the top group in the whole league and just their style of play, the way theyre coaching them, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. I think Bosa adding to those guys has been a big addition. Dee Ford has really fit in well on third-down situations. Theyre flying and theyre about as good as you can hope to be now. Theyre really getting it done.
The 49ers will square off against the Seahawks in an NFC West rivalry game at 7:15 p.m. CST Monday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. ESPN will televise the game.
Seattle will enter the final game of Week 10 of the NFL’s 2019 season with a 7-2 record. San Francisco has an 8-0 mark after beating the Arizona Cardinals 28-25 on Oct. 31 in the first game of Week 9.
I felt it as soon as the Arizona game was over: Its Seattle week, Ford said. Its real, man. Its a real thing. The blood is in the water with these games. You never know what youre going to get, so both teams have to gear up.
Ford traces his current knee problem to a 2013 injury, when he tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee about two weeks before his senior season at Auburn kicked off. Ford missed the first two games, but he returned to register 10.5 sacks as the Tigers won the SEC championship and reached the BCS national-championship game.
Back surgery for a herniated disk in 2011 had caused Ford to take a medical redshirt after his first two seasons at Auburn. The former St. Clair County High School star also required back surgery again that cost him 10 games during the 2017 NFL season.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
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