I think one of the more underrated storylines this season is the pressure on Dee Ford to perform. The San Francisco 49ers traded a 2020 second round pick for the former Kansas City Chief. Ford’s contract is set up to where 2019 is where he gets the majority of his money. After that, it’s mostly a year-to-year deal.
Ford didn’t receive an $85-million contract by accident. No player put more pressure on the quarterback as an edge rusher than Dee Ford did in 2018. When you consistently get after the quarterback, eventually those pressures turn into sacks. That was the case for Ford, who finished the season with 13 sacks and 29 quarterback hits. If Ford can put up a similar season in 2019, the Niners defense has a chance to be as good as it looks on paper.
Experience: Five accrued seasons
Weight: 252 pounds
The 49ers signed Ford to a five-year, $85 million contract on March 14, 2019. Ford received $20.5 million fully guaranteed at signing and a total of $45 million in injury protection. The fully guaranteed portion of Ford’s contract is made up of an $8 million signing bonus, $7 million roster bonus paid in 2019, and his 2019 base salary. If on the roster on April 1, 2020, his base salary that year will become fully guaranteed. His 2021 salary has a partial injury guarantee. In each year of the contract, there are $750,000 in annual per-game roster bonuses and $100,000 in workout bonuses from 2020 through 2023. He can increase the total value of the contract by $2.5 million based on being selected to the Pro Bowl in each season.
If Ford receives the full-amount for his contract, that’s excellent. That means he would have turned out to be the star the 49ers traded for.
What to expect in 2019
Expectations are high for Ford heading into the season. When a team trades a valuable pick and gives you almost $20 million in a season, expectations better be high. Ford needs to produce at a high level, and he will. As far as his final season stats, is it fair to say it was a disappointing season if Ford doesn’t finish in the top ten in sacks, hits, and hurries? I do.
According to Pro Football Reference, Ford was fifth in QB hits last year and seventh in sacks. The talent that is surrounding similar to what Ford played with the previous year. Is Nick Bosa going to come into the league as good as Justin Houston? Of course not. That’s not fair to him. Bosa will be an impact player, though.
Ford’s contributions will go well beyond the box score. Having a viable threat on the edge will make Deforest Buckner’s more manageable than it’s ever been. If Bosa gets rolling, lookout. If you’ve seen some of the defenses around the league that feature multiple threats—like the Chiefs last year—one of your “stars” will be blocked 1-on-1 every play. If Ford can win 1-on-1 anywhere close to the number of times he did a year ago, playoffs.
Why he might regress in 2019
We are talking about the 49ers, so health. Ford only played six games in 2017 and has been banged up here and there throughout his career that has caused him to miss time. On the field, Ford will be in a situation where if he’s on the field, it’ll be tough not to make an impact. If I had to pick something, it would be consistency. Ford never finds his groove in his new element, and his play suffers because of it.
Before 2018, Ford was thought of as a streaky player. He’ll dominate a game; then he’ll disappear for two. The Niners can’t afford that type of play. Neither can Ford if he wants to play out his contract.