Dee Ford needs health and production to remain with 49ers

The 49ers traded a haul of picks to the Chiefs for pass rusher Dee Ford ahead of the 2019 season, but his contract gives the team an easy out after 2020.

The San Francisco 49ers added Dee Ford via trade to an already-potent pass rush ahead of the 2019 season, but his injury history and erratic production could be a cause for concern in the future. In his first year with the 49ers, Ford played in just 11 games, tallying 6.5 sacks.

After posting 13 sacks in his final full season with the Kansas City Chiefs, Ford’s injury struggles were certainly disappointing for San Francisco fans. However, the pass rush was still among the best in the league even without Ford, helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl.

With Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead potentially making Ford expendable, San Francisco may look to move on from the former Chief sooner rather than later. Per Spotrac, his contract structure makes this entirely possible. After 2020, Ford carries a minimal dead cap hit, making it relatively painless to move on from him.

Especially with his career mired by inconsistency, Ford may lose control over his situation. The pass-rusher has just two seasons with double-digit sacks, and has suffered injuries in two of his last three seasons. With so much capital invested in the defensive line already, Ford has the potential to become a liability.

Essentially, his contract becomes a series of one-year deals after 2020, with dead cap hits under $5 million in 2021, 2022 and 2023. It’s unlikely that the 49ers move on from him after just two years, but three seasons should not be out of the question. Ford only has two truly great seasons under his belt, and has all the markings of a cap casualty.

He has certainly shown the potential to become a key contributor for the 49ers, but until he proves that he is worth the investment, his future in San Francisco will be murky.

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