Dee Ford

NFC West Notes: Ford, Clowney, Collier

Dee Ford played a key part of the 49ers‘ dramatic pass rush improvement last season, but the former Chiefs edge defender spent the season battling injuries. The 49ers did not use Ford last season nearly as much as the Chiefs did in 2018, with Ford’s knee and hamstring troubles contributing to his sporadic deployment. Ford took a step to a healthier 2020 season by undergoing knee surgery this offseason, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. Ford described the operation as a “pretty extensive cleanup.”

He underwent the procedure a few weeks after Super Bowl LIV. Ford encountered multiple bouts of knee tendinitis last year, first in training camp and then aggravating the injury while training on artificial surfaces when the 49ers prepped for their Bengals game in Ohio. This preceded his hamstring trouble, but it sounds like Ford’s knee was an issue throughout the season. The 29-year-old defender said he “feels great” months later.

I’m able to actually explode off of this knee,” said Ford, who finished with 6.5 sacks last season. “Thinking back on it, I can’t believe I played a whole season on it. And we knew at the end of the day what we had to do — (it) had to be surgical. But I didn’t want to miss the season. We had too much going on. I didn’t want to miss that. It’s in the bag now. I’m confident in that.

Here is the latest from the NFC West, shifting to some Seahawks defensive line matters:

  • Although he has most recently been connected to the Browns and Titans, Jadeveon Clowney remains on the Seahawks‘ radar. Clowney’s most recent team remains interested in a reunion, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. But, as has been the case throughout, the Seahawks appear to be hoping Clowney will drop his asking price. Clowney already did so earlier this offseason, but based on his 2 1/2-month free agency stay, the former No. 1 overall pick appears to still be asking for more than teams are willing to pay.
  • L.J. Collier did not accomplish much on the field during his rookie season, playing only 152 defensive snaps and making just three tackles. Collier, however, suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason and said he may have rushed back from the injury. The TCU product is healthy now as training camp approaches (Twitter links via Condotta). The Seahawks plan to give Collier a shot to play a Michael Bennett-type role in their defense. Collier is slated to work at both defensive end and D-tackle, Condotta adds (on Twitter).
  • The Cardinals have not made a strong effort to lock up Patrick Peterson on another extension, but the contract-year cornerback said he still wants to play his entire career in Arizona.
  • Conversely, Rams No. 1 corner Jalen Ramsey received a strong endorsement from his head coach about both his future with the Rams and ability to reset his position’s market.

John Lynch On Draft, Trades, Staley

With the draft approaching, 49ers general manager John Lynch conducted a teleconference with the local media Monday where he revealed several interesting nuggets. When asked about a report from earlier today that he was shopping veterans Kwon Alexander, Dee Ford, Jaquiski Tartt, and Marquise Goodwin, Lynch denied the first three but acknowledged the fourth.

Marquise is the one guy out of that group that you mentioned where there’s active discussions going on,” Lynch said, via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports.The other guys, we love and are really looking forward to playing with moving forward.” It hasn’t been any secret they’ve been looking to trade Goodwin, and we heard last month they’d likely have to end up cutting him. However Lynch claimed there has been legit interest, saying a Goodwin deal “came close a couple of times” this offseason. Goodwin had a career year with San Francisco in 2017 with 962 yards, but injuries sapped his effectiveness and in 2019 he had only 186.

Also late last month we heard longtime left tackle Joe Staley wasn’t necessarily committed to playing in 2020, although Lynch assuaged some of those fears. “We’ve heard nothing that would lead us to believe that Joe is not going to play. So we’re encouraged with that. We’ll see where that goes,” he said. While that still is far from ironclad, it looks like Staley returning for a 14th season is a good bet.

The 49ers hold the 13th and 31st picks in the draft, and there has been speculation they’ll look to trade down since they currently don’t have any selections in the second, third, or fourth-rounds. Lynch confirmed he has talked to teams about potentially trading both picks, per a Maiocco tweet.

However, he said he’d stand pat at 13 if the team could land a “difference maker.” Lynch said that he and head coach Kyle Shanahan have so far identified six players they’d draft with the 13th pick before opting to trade down, Matt Barrows of The Athletic tweets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Shopping Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander

The 49ers are shopping several notable names in advance of the draft, according to Mike Lombardi of The Ringer (on Twitter). Execs around the league tell the former GM that edge rusher Dee Ford, linebacker Kwon Alexander and safety Jaquiski Tartt have all been made available for the right price. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who was dangled earlier this year, also remains on the block. 

The level of interest in those four players isn’t immediately clear, but the Niners are exploring every avenue in advance of the draft. Ford is set to enter his second season with San Francisco, just one year after coming over via trade with Kansas City. He’s in the midst of a five-year, $85MM contract and coming off of an injury-riddled season.

Thanks to knee, quadriceps, and hamstring issues, Ford was limited to just eleven regular season contests. And, when he was on the field, the 49ers had to ease the 29-year-old into action. All in all, he played on just 22% of the defensive snaps.

Alexander, 26 in August, has three seasons left on his four-year, $54MM deal. The off-ball ‘backer is remarkably tough – he suffered a torn pectoral muscle in November and somehow managed to return for the Niners’ playoff run. Alexander also battled a biceps injury that required surgery in February. These maladies emerged after he missed much of the 2018 season with an ACL tear. They will also drop his potential trade value.

The 49ers used rookie Dre Greenlaw for much of the season in Alexander’s place but reinstalled the highly paid outside linebacker in the starting lineup in the playoffs. Greenlaw has three years left on his rookie deal.

San Francisco had initially constructed Alexander’s contract to make it easier for the franchise to move on from him after 2019. But after a November restructure, that becomes more difficult. The 49ers added void years to Alexander’s contract to create cap space. Because of this, Alexander does not become a realistic cut candidate until 2022. But it appears the 49ers are trying to offload the former Buccaneer’s contract on another team and move forward with a younger player at the position.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers’ Dee Ford Will Not Need Surgery

The 49ers acquired edge rusher Dee Ford from the Chiefs last offseason via tag-and-trade and then signed him to a five-year, $85MM contract. When healthy, Ford played reasonably well in 2019, but injuries limited him during his first season in the Bay Area.

The 28-year-old (29 in March) dealt with knee, quad, and hamstring injuries throughout the year, and he ultimately played in just 11 regular season contests. Even when he did suit up, San Francisco sometimes kept him on a pitch count, and he ultimately played in just 22% of the team’s defensive snaps.

Luckily, the 49ers had a great deal of depth along their defensive front, so they could withstand Ford’s absence. But the team doesn’t have a ton of cap space and needs to address the contract situations of defensive linemen DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead, as well as tight end George Kittle. Armstead is reportedly open to playing out the 2020 season under the franchise tag, but San Francisco may need to cut ties with him, and if that happens, Ford will become much more important to the club’s pass rush.

And despite the list of ailments that Ford suffered through, he is not expected to need surgery this offseason, according to GM John Lynch (via Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee). “Not as we know right now,” Lynch said. “We’ll have those conversations. But, I think Dee is in good health right now.” 

That could go a long way towards helping Lynch sort out his offseason priorities. If he can reasonably rely on a healthy offseason from Ford, that may allow him to save money on Armstead while addressing arguably more important free agents, like WR Emmanuel Sanders.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Ingram, 49ers, Thielen, Fuller

With every team booked into divisional-round action having now begun practice, here is the latest from the injury front going into Round 2. We’ll start with a midweek Vikings setback:

  • Stefon Diggs has missed two Vikings practices because of illness this week, but Mike Zimmer expects him to suit up in San Francisco. However, Adam Thielen suffered an ankle injury at practice and was limited on Wednesday as a result. Thielen was not on Minnesota’s Tuesday injury report. The Pro Bowl wideout missed much of this season with a hamstring injury. He caught seven passes for a game-high 129 yards against the Saints.
  • The NFL’s other purple-wearing team will likely go into its second-round game with backfield uncertainty. Previously expected to return for the Ravens‘ playoff opener, Mark Ingram has missed both Ravens practices this week. Ingram experienced a setback with his injured calf last week, leading to the Ravens to shut him down for a bit, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The Ravens are indicating there is a “realistic chance” Ingram plays. Baltimore backup Gus Edwards‘ 5.2 yards per carry ranked third in the NFL this season.
  • 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander has been cleared for game action, per Rapoport (video link), meaning it’s now Kyle Shanahan‘s call on whether to redeploy the high-priced defender Saturday. The 49ers used their second IR-return spot on Alexander, who is attempting to return from a midseason pectoral tear, but have not activated him yet.
  • Winding down an oft-injured season, Dee Ford is back at 49ers practice and appears ready to return at a key juncture. The veteran defensive end has dealt with a few maladies, his most recent being a hamstring issue that he aggravated in December. Ford’s gone through limited practices the past two days.
  • One of the NFL’s most important No. 2 wideouts, Will Fuller is trending in the right direction for the Texans‘ divisional-round rematch in Kansas City. The Texans expect their deep threat to return against the Chiefs, Rapoport tweets. Fuller was limited Wednesday. Deshaun Watson‘s QBR figure is 16 points higher when Fuller is on the field compared to when he’s not. The injury-prone wideout missed six games this season, the latest because of the groin injury he sustained in December.
  • Among the healthiest of the divisional-round teams, the Packers will have their right tackle back in the mix. Bryan Bulaga suffered a concussion in Week 17 but passed the protocol Wednesday, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. Kenny Clark, however, missed practice with a back injury. The contract-year defensive lineman played all 16 Packer games this season.

Injury Updates: Ingram, Haskins, Murray

Here are the key injuries which we’ve seen some reporting on:

  • The Ravens officially clinched the top seed in the AFC with their win over the Browns on Sunday, but Baltimore fans were left holding their breath when running back Mark Ingram went down with a calf injury. Head coach John Harbaugh told reporters after the game there’s no structural damage, but a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com that Ingram suffered a calf strain (Twitter link). Ingram was wearing a walking boot after a game, via a tweet from Josina Anderson of ESPN. Harbaugh was trying to sound optimistic, but calf strains can linger. Fortunately for Baltimore, he’ll have Week 17 and a first-round bye to rest.
  • Dwayne Haskins has been getting a lot better recently, so it was unfortunate to see him go down with an ankle injury during the Redskins’ loss to the Giants. Interestingly, Haskins said after the game that he lobbied to return, but owner Dan Snyder personally told him not to go back in, per John Keim of ESPN.com. Normally it’d be unusual for an owner to be consulting directly with a player during a game, but this is the Redskins we’re talking about. Washington is in line for the second overall pick right now, and they could opt to be conservative and sit Haskins in Week 17.
  • Speaking of rookie quarterbacks, Kyler Murray was also knocked out on Sunday with a hamstring injury. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters after the game he wasn’t sure if Murray would be able to play in Week 17 against the Rams. Murray had a large wrap on his hamstring and if it was bad enough to knock him out immediately he could be up against it to play next week. Brett Hundley, who finished off Arizona’s upset win over the Seahawks, would start next week if he isn’t ready.
  • One last quarterback update, as Mason Rudolph was sidelined with a shoulder injury shortly after being reinserted for a benched Devlin Hodges. The Steelers’ quarterback situation is an absolute mess right now as they prepare for a must-win game against the Ravens. Hodges came back in for Rudolph, and resumed struggling. Rudolph provided an instant spark after relieving Hodges, so he’ll almost certainly start against Baltimore if he’s healthy. Rudolph was seen leaving the stadium with his arm in a sling, per Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link).
  • The Titans can clinch a playoff berth with a Week 17 win over the Texans, and fortunately they’ll be getting a boost to their offense. Running back Derrick Henry was inactive for their loss to the Saints on Sunday, but he is expected to play against Houston, a source told Schefter (Twitter link). Henry has been dealing with a hamstring issue.
  • The winner of the Week 17 game between the 49ers and Seahawks will determine who wins the NFC West and in turn hosts a playoff game, and both sides are banged up. San Francisco pass-rusher Dee Ford has missed most of the last month with a hamstring injury and he’s not expected to play against Seattle, a source told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports. They gave up a second-round pick to land Ford this offseason, then signed him to a massive extension, and he’s been a bit of a disappointment. Fortunately for the 49ers, the Seahawks are dealing with even more significant health issues.

49ers’ Dee Ford To Miss Time

Dee Ford can’t seem to stay healthy. On Monday, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that that edge rusher will miss at least three weeks with a hamstring strain.

[RELATED: Weston Richburg Done For Year]

Ford has been dealing with the hamstring issue, plus other injuries, throughout the year. He returned from a two-game absence on Sunday, only to exit early from the Niners’ high-scoring win over the Saints. This time around, the Niners will be forced to shut him down for the remainder of the regular season, at minimum. The hope is that Ford will be ready to go for the second round of the playoffs.

Ford signed a massive five-year, $85MM deal with his new team after coming over via trade with the Chiefs. Through eleven games this year, he has 6.5 sacks.

Without Ford, the Niners are expected to lean more on Solomon Thomas and Jeremiah Valoaga. They’ll wrap the regular season against the Falcons, Rams, and Seahawks as they look to secure a first-round bye.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Cook, Mack, Staley, Ford, Kendricks

All the latest injury updates as we await kickoff in the morning:

  • Vikings fans were left holding their breath on Monday night, when Stefon Diggs and Dalvin Cook went down with injuries on the same play. Diggs soon returned to the game, and it looks like Cook is alright as well. The star running back aggravated a pre-existing injury during Minnesota’s loss to Seattle, but he was removed from the final injury report on Friday and is all systems go for Sunday’s game against the Lions. It’s still possible the Vikings seek to lessen his workload, in which case promising backup Alexander Mattison would pick up the slack.
  • Speaking of banged up running backs, the Colts’ Marlon Mack got back to a full practice and will make his return Sunday against the Bucs. Mack has missed the past two games with a hand injury, and Indianapolis could really use him as they’ve lost four of their past five games. Mack had minor surgery on his hand a few weeks back.
  • Joe Staley is returning from injury for the second time this season. The 49ers’ left tackle has missed nine games this year due to various ailments, but is returning for this weekend’s pivotal game against the Saints. San Francisco has obviously been getting by just fine without him, but his presence will be a huge boost as they go up against a really tough New Orleans defensive front. Staley isn’t the only key piece the 49ers are getting back, as pass-rusher Dee Ford will also make his return to the lineup. Ford, who signed a massive five-year, $85MM deal with his new team after getting traded from the Chiefs, has missed each of the past two games with a quad injury.
  • The Seahawks’ defense looks like it’ll be a bit shorthanded, as Mychal Kendricks is being listed as doubtful for their Sunday Night Football game against the Rams. This will be the linebacker’s first missed game of the season, and he has started all 12 for Seattle. Rookie third-round pick Cody Barton could get his first career start as a result, tweets Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times.

West Rumors: Clowney, 49ers, Chiefs

Jadeveon Clowney returned to practice Friday, and Pete Carroll expects his top defensive end to play against the Vikings. But it looks like the former No. 1 overall pick will have to battle some pain the rest of the way. The Seahawks defender practiced for the first time since suffering a core muscle injury, and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (via Twitter) the sixth-year defender believes he can put off surgery until the offseason. But another surgery appears likely for Clowney, who missed all of the Texans’ 2018 offseason program because of a knee surgery. He also underwent microfracture surgery earlier in his career. While this core issue likely will not impact Clowney’s potential free agency much, his ability to play through this malady should be something to monitor for the rest of this season.

Here is the latest from around the NFL:

  • Joe Staley missed last week’s 49ers blowout because of a broken finger, but the veteran left tackle returned to practice Friday and worked through a limited practice Saturday. Staley has only played in three games this season, missing most of San Francisco’s resurgence with a broken leg. He’s questionable to face the Ravens.
  • Sunday’s marquee game will not include Dee Ford, who remains out with a quad and hamstring injuries. Boasting one of the deepest defensive lines in recent NFL history, the 49ers are uniquely covered on this front. Ford’s stretch run, though, could be pivotal to his future. The 49ers signed the ex-Chief to a frontloaded deal that does not contain any guaranteed money after this season.
  • The Chiefs have not enjoyed much backfield consistency this season, and that trend will continue Sunday. Starter Damien Williams will miss the Raiders rematch with a rib injury, leaving LeSean McCoy and second-year back Darrel Williams set to man the backfield in Kansas City.
  • Drew Lock is now on the Broncos’ active roster. The second-round rookie has been out for more than three months due to a thumb injury.
  • Although the Cardinals have yet to approach Patrick Peterson about another extension, the All-Pro cornerback would welcome such discussions.

NFC West Notes: Kendricks, Williams, 49ers

Mychal Kendricks‘ sentencing date keeps getting postponed, and the Seahawks keep reaping the rewards. Per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com, Kendricks is now due to be sentenced for insider trading — which he pleaded guilty to in September 2018 — in February 2020 (Twitter link). The date has been pushed back five times now, and instead of losing Kendricks on November 21 (the most recent date), Seattle will have their starting weakside ‘backer for its playoff run.

Now for more from the NFC West:

  • The Cardinals signed tight end Maxx Williams to a modest one-year, $805K pact this offseason, but they have been impressed enough with his performance — especially as a pass blocker — to sign him to an extension several days ago. And he will get a sizable raise, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says the two-year pact, which keeps Williams in the desert through 2021, is worth $7MM (Twitter link).
  • 49ers CB Jason Verrett and DL Kentavius Street are both getting healthier and are candidates to come off of IR at some point this season, as Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area (citing head coach Kyle Shanahan) tweets. Both players have had difficult injury luck in their careers, so this is encouraging news, and San Francisco would surely love to have Verrett and Street as depth for the stretch run.
  • The news is not as good for 49ers rookie WR Jalen Hurd, as Shanahan says it’s unlikely Hurd will be ready to come off of IR this year (Twitter link via Maiocco).
  • The 49ers are also planning on being without DE Dee Ford for a couple of weeks, per Maiocco (via Twitter). Injuries have limited Ford during his first year in San Francisco, though he has managed to post 6.5 sacks. Ford is currently dealing with a hamstring injury.