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Report: Chiefs place franchise tag on Dee Ford, but open to trade

Should the 49ers pick up the phone?

Dee Ford said he wanted to return to the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Chiefs like the idea as they are placing the franchise tag on him for 2019. Just one difference, Adam Schefter reports the Chiefs intend keeping Ford in 2019, but are open to trading the linebacker.

The question might be why the Chiefs are open to such an idea with Ford—who was one of the more productive outside linebackers in 2019—and that’s because of the scheme. And no, it’s not because of this. They recently fired defensive coordinator Bob Sutton who ran a 3-4 and hired Steve Spagnuolo who runs more of a 4-3 scheme. There’s been some debates on how scheme fit works with linebackers and how significant it is. Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said scheme fit isn’t much of an issue, but he spoke about draft prospects, not veterans like Ford and it concerned the collegiate transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4, not the other way around.

With the non-exclusive franchise tag, the Chiefs are on the hook to pay Ford in the neighborhood of $14.9 million in 2019. Teams can still make offers to Ford directly, but if the Chiefs decide not to match, they will get two first-round picks as compensation. This makes a trade all the more likely for any team interested in Ford’s services. So an NFL team would first need to get an adequate package together for the Chiefs, and also have either $14.9 million in their budget to get Ford for a year, or have a multi-year deal worked out.

This of course brings up the San Francisco 49ers. They could use a pass rusher and Ford is a juicy option in that department. He had 13 sacks in 2018 and seven forced fumbles. The problem is the very issue the Chiefs are trying to avoid: a schematic mismatch. The 49ers run a 4-3 and the Chiefs are wondering if Ford can run that very same defense. If the Chiefs are open to trading him for that reason, it may be a red flag for the 49ers if they were interested.

Still, the 49ers need a pass rusher and Spagnuolo’s 4-3 is not Robert Saleh’s 4-3. What do you think? Would you look into a trade for Ford in the 49ers’ defensive scheme?