The San Francisco 49ers made headlines on Tuesday when they traded for Kansas City Chiefs pass rusher Dee Ford. General manager John Lynch surrendered a 2020 second-round pick to pry Ford away from the Chiefs, who was signed to a one-year, $15.4 million franchise tag. To facilitate the deal, San Francisco inked Ford to a new five-year, $87.5 million dollar contract, one of the biggest handed out since the opening of free agency’s negotiating period. Lets break down some of the takeaways from the 49ers’ new signing.
Ford is exactly what 49ers needed
Ford’s first step is among the fastest in the NFL. He excels at beating offensive tackles to their spot, bending the corner and pressuring or sacking quarterbacks. Ford accounted for 13 sacks, 29 quarterback hits and 78 pressures (per Pro Football Focus) in 2018. He’s a true edge rusher and the perfect complement to a 49ers defensive front chalked full of first-round talent. Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner racked up 12 sacks and 53 pressures last season, and those numbers are likely to climb with offenses now needing to account for Ford.
A significant investment
His five-year, $87.5 million dollar contract makes Ford the second-highest paid player on the 49ers’ roster behind quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s also among the highest paid pass rushers in the NFL. Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers was the top defender to hit the open market, landing a five-year, $90 million contract at the start of free agency. His $18 million annual value is just ahead of Ford’s $17.5. Ford is now the league’s fifth-highest paid edge rusher behind Khalil Mack, Demarcus Lawrence, Von Miller and Flowers.
The move isn’t without risk
2018 was far-and-away Ford’s best season. His 91.0 pass-rush grade was the league’s best while also racking up more pressures than any other edge rusher. The rest of Ford’s career has been far from stellar. His overall grades from 2014-17 were 63.1, 52.5, 65.9 and 54.5, respectively - all concerning. The 49ers are clearly hoping that 2018 was a glimpse of things to come for Ford, especially after signing him to a long-term deal.
Nick Bosa still on the table
The 49ers’ pass rush will get a significant boost with the addition of Ford. That doesn’t mean that Lynch is out of the market, though. The 49ers still own the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, an ideal spot to land a franchise player. With rumors swirling of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray going first-overall, Bosa has picked up steam for the 49ers in recent mock drafts. Signing Ford gives the team flexibility at second-overall, but doesn’t mean they aren’t still committed to investing further in the defense.