The overwhelming majority of us can agree that San Francisco 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa will probably lead the team in total pressures in 2020. Bosa will likely have the most sacks, quarterbacks, and hurries by the end of the season. After Bosa, the 49ers will rely on Arik Armstead and Dee Ford. No team in the NFL can say they have a third pass rusher as good as either Ford or Armstead, so when we’re discussing who will be more productive, it’s an argument every other team would love to have.
So which top-tier player will have a better season? We can’t compare their stats from last season as Ford played 226 snaps compared to Armstead’s 776. According to Pro Football Reference, Armstead had 17 hurries, six quarterback knockdowns, ten sacks. Armstead’s missed tackle rate was 14%, which is a bit high for a defensive lineman. Ford had eight hurries, one knockdown, and 6.5 sacks. He did not miss a tackle.
On a per down basis, Ford was one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. His sample size was so small, though that he didn’t qualify in a lot of categories. Is it easy enough to say Ford will put up video game numbers on this defense if he’s healthy? Ford revealed he had surgery this offseason. He’ll enter 2020 healthy, which will be different from last year. Even if healthy, I’d bet Armstead plays 150-200 more snaps than Ford as Arik is an every-down player. He’ll have a chance to outperform Dee by being on the field more.
Here are my projections for each player next year:
Armstead: 770 snaps, 14 hurries, six QB knockdowns, seven sacks.
Ford: 620 snaps, 18 hurries, six QB knockdowns, 11 sacks.
I think Arik takes a step back this season statistically. He got off to such a great start last season where he was in the running to be an All-Pro. As his snap counts continued to climb as the season went on, Armstead’s production suffered. Ideally, the 49ers can rest him more this season, so Arik is rested for the playoffs.
Ford will play a lot more, but I think he’ll be closer to 50-60% of the snaps. I can see him leading the team in sacks, but 11 feels like a fair number with Ford is playing half of the time. Both he and Arik’s production go well beyond the box score, which will only help everyone else along the defensive line.
Who do you think will have the most pressures, sacks + hits + hurries, in 2020?