San Francisco 49ers edge rusher Dee Ford spoke to the media Thursday. You know the question surrounding George Kittle was coming after Kittle became the highest-paid tight end in NFL history Thursday morning. Ford recalled the time he was with the Chiefs and they game-planned for Kittle:
Me, him, and Joe talked a lot my last year in Kansas City— in between plays. It was a very fun game. Kittle is Kittle, man. He’s a beast. Of course, we planned for him, and he still worked us. It was fun, great competition. As far as practice, Kittle is Kittle. He’s going to make plays. He’s a beast. He’s the best blocking tight end. Best catching tight end. Best tight end in the league. I’m proud of him. He really deserves everything.
Ford said that his goal was to be a full participant all season. He said his knee feels really good, and now it’s just about getting into football shape. “As far as 11-on-11, I plan on being in all of that all year.”
On how big of a year this is in terms of reestablishing himself
Every year is a big year for me because we can’t play this game forever. I’m really trying to leave my legacy. I treat every day like a new opportunity to get better. 1% better for all of us is really good. We are always fighting for that 1% of your full potential. We’re trying to reach our full potential every day. That’s my approach every day when I step on the field. I want to get better.
What detail, in particular, somebody like you would be improving and if you could elaborate on what Kyle said about the focus on your team
Something as simple as getting off on the ball. That sounds very simple, but if you cut on the tape, not every guy gets off the ball every play. Focusing on something like that goes back to that 1% that I was talking about earlier. We’re trying to get better and reach our full potential, even if it’s 1% a day. We are obsessed with getting better. That’s hard to do when you’re as good as we were last year. We really don’t try to reinvent the wheel, just focus on small details that’s that 1% that we’re fighting for.
Did the 49ers ever see the real Dee Ford at any point last year
At moments, but not consistently. Not to my level. Not to my expectations, no. At times, and I did what I could while I could. I didn’t want to miss the season and leave my team hanging. That’s part of football. It’s 100% guaranteed injury business. You have guys who are willing to play injured. Sherm was injured. We had a lot of guys play through injury. That’s just what you have to do.
But no, you saw glimpses of me, but not to that full throttle.
What have been your impressions on Javon Kinlaw?
Everything that you want to see in a rookie— he wants to be a sponge, he wants to soak everything in, he wants to learn. He reminds me of Bosa when he came in. He didn’t say too much. When you’re a first-round draft pick, you can come in and smell yourself. You can be a little entitled. That’s not him, that’s not his DNA. He fits in well with the guys.
When you come here, John and Kyle get specific players. Nine times out of ten, if they got them, they know what type of character they have. And so far, he’s done everything as promised, and he’s going to get better. He’s behind the eight-ball, but every rookie is because of the virus. He can’t get OTAs, and OTAs were crucial, for me, especially with learning a new position my rookie year, so I could only imagine where his mind is right now. He’s handling it very well. He’s going to be really good.
What’s a successful season look like for Dee Ford?
A successful season for me is me, every play, be the best that I can be every play, and be available every play. The numbers will always take care of themselves. We all know what type of player that I am. Every player knows what type of player that they are. It’s just about showing up every play, every down, every game. I know if I’m out on that field, I know what happens. But if I’m not on the field, it’s null and void.
How can you improve as a player?
Other than being available and get-off, those are my two things. Kris [Kocurek] always says I’m a great closer, but my get-off, my actual get-off, the initial get-off when the ball is snapped can be a lot better.
When you are glued into the ball every single play, a lot of defensive linemen, anybody who played on the front, can be a whole lot better. It’s tough to glue in on the ball every down. That’s one of my goals. Of course, exploding off blocks, making plays, all that. When you do the right things, take care of your fundamentals, production will come.