49ers acquire Pro Bowl pass rusher Dee Ford in trade with Chiefs

AFC outside linebacker Dee Ford (55), of the Kansas City Chiefs, waits for a play during the first half of the NFL Pro Bowl football game against the NFC Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The 49ers made a blockbuster trade Tuesday evening.

They dealt their second-round pick in 2020 to the Kansas City Chiefs for edge rusher Dee Ford, then gave Ford a five-year, $87.5 million contract extension, according to published reports.

Ford, 27, recorded 13 sacks and 29 quarterback hits in 2018. Both statistics were career highs. Despite his stellar play last season, the Chiefs refused to give him a long-term contract extension. Instead, they gave him the franchise tag on March 2. They reportedly felt Ford didn’t defend the run well enough and wouldn’t fit their 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The Chiefs had used a 3-4 defense the past five seasons, and Ford was one of their starting outside linebackers.

The 49ers also use a 4-3 defense, and it isn’t clear where they plan to play Ford. They could line him up at strong-side linebacker — the linebacker who lines up closest to the tight end. Or, they could play him at “Leo,” which is the 49ers’ weak-side defensive end — the defensive end who lines up farthest away from the tight end.

Wherever the 49ers decide to play Ford in their base defense, they certainly will play him at defensive end in their nickel defense during passing downs. He is their best edge rusher.

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This article has 52 Comments

  1. I like the move. My concern still lies at Safety, because that is a major hole (and one I don’t think ET will fill, but even ET on one leg is better than Tartt and Colbert combined) that doesn’t seem to be getting filled. Second corner also a concern, but maybe that can be solved in the draft.

    If the Niners get something sorted at safety though, and draft Allen (or even Bozo) then the line would be pretty stacked, and Salah would be all out of excuses. At the very least, if it doesn’t work it’ll be enough to get him fired, and that’s close to a win in my book.

    1. “At the very least, if it doesn’t work it’ll be enough to get him fired, and that’s close to a win in my book.”


      I have been wanting him gone since the end of 2017. Hopefully Kyle only gives him this season to prove his worth.

  2. Two great moves in Kwon and Ford….. Now draft Bosa and get a star safety and great corner… Draft a couple offensive lineman and draft a stud receiver a red zone threat… Playoffs here we come……

  3. Who’s next? There was a report that San Francisco was in the hunt for l bell. Sounds like there is some urgency with the FO this year.

  4. Hey Grant, next time you are on KNBR’s with Larry Krueger, maybe he can explain how Dee Ford fits. Here is his take after the trade:

    The 49ers’ defense is actually a 5-2, that utilizes 3-4 personnel. On every snap they have 5 defenders on the LOS and 2 stacked LBs roaming behind that 5-man front. Dee Ford can dial up the necessary heat off the edge.

    Seems pretty clear how Dee Ford fits for a lot of us, including Larry Krueger, and much more importantly, Robert Saleh. His job is to hunt down opposing QB’s!

    Trust me on this …… after they draft Nick Bosa, the stars will all line up, and everything will shine crystal clear, like a Rocky Mountain stream! The 49ers front seven is about to be a scary proposition for any team looking to challenge the 49ers playoff push in 2019 and beyond!

    1. Maybe I’m asking too much Grant, but can’t you find it in your soul to let us Forty Niner Faithful bask in the sunlight for once in your life?

      I mean, is there something missing in your life that compels you to find any possible reason to criticize every single move this team makes, day after day, year after year?

      My gosh, the team just went out and landed the most productive edge rusher in the NFL last season, and didn’t even need to give up a pick this year in order to do it. They then turn around and sign him to a reasonable long term deal (considerably less than Mack), and all you can think to do is dissect the trade, trying to find any small angle to support the idea that it might not work out?

      Why Grant …. why? What can possibly be constructive in finding a way to criticize every move a team makes, regardless of whether they are receiving almost universal praise throughout the league?

      1. I don’t understand 49,
        This article is actually pretty fair, it says he’s the the most productive pass rusher they have had in years. It gives stats and lists his injuries. Says he will play as a DE in sub packages but it isn’t clear in base. All of which is true.
        This was more of a news article than an opinion piece and I thought it was pretty good.

        1. You think it’s fair Shoup?

          The Chiefs new 4-3 is actually different in a lot of ways compared to the 49ers 4-3. Calling Ford a borderline Bust, and referring to him as expendable, without any mention of the Chief’s salary cap situation?

          It certainly wasn’t the most pessimistic article Grant has written in the last 48 hours, but I wouldn’t exactly call it complementary either, especially next to the nearly universal-praise the 49ers are receiving around the NFL this evening.

          1. Yes, the borderline bust comment was a bit harsh but at one point many would have thought he was…

            he was 2nd rounder that didn’t start for 2 seasons, then after his breakout season with 10 sacks he suffered a back injury. Back injuries are tricky, many don’t recover from them at all, so there was likely a real fear that he might never be the same.

            His last season changed that narrative but 1 season prior to that there was a real danger he was a blown draft pick.

    2. That’s not entirely accurate. The original 5-2/3-4 was the “Oklahoma” Defense run by Bud Wilkinson in the early 50’s (I HIGHLY recommend “Modern Defensive Football” (even though it was written in the 50’s) by Wilkinson and Jones). It was purely a containment type of defense (boxed ends that pushed ball carriers back inside) with stand up defensive ends….these guys would eventually evolve into a more flexible linebacker position. It was a hybrid one-gap 2 gap scheme (with the idea of “gaps” not having been defined yet….defensive linemen were often assigned areas to defend which in some cases meant manhandling their blockers….like a modern day read and react 2 gap….or other times their area was open to fit in and control it….like a modern day 1 gap). But Saleh uses almost exclusively more up field pressure…”spilling” of ball carriers with the goal of the force players to push ball carriers outside to the sidelines (one of the reasons he likes fast linebackers).

      Yeah….Ford is probably a base SAM backer that rushes off the edge in passing situations. There’s likely a new defensive end in the Niner’s future. With them using a wide 9 alignment…I could see them going after a guy more like Sweat or Ferrell if they don’t go after Bosa (who seems a little stiff to play that technique).

      1. Good stuff allforfunplay. My point being, Saleh uses a hybrid scheme, and utilize 3-4 personnel, with a lot of 5 men fronts. Ford absolutely fits this scheme. But I always felt like the 49ers would grab 2 pass rushers this off-season.

        I feel like Bosa would complete the puzzle, as he is a complete player, with the ability to both get after the QB, and set the edge. He doesn’t have any weaknesses as far as I can tell, and looks like a great fit for LEO, which is a bit of a unique kind of player. Ford can line up on either side. But I could get on board with Ferrell, though probably not at #2. If they can trade back and get him at, say #6, while garnering more picks, that might be equally acceptable to me. But Bosa would be my first choice.

        1. For the scheme, IMO, Bosa is sort of a tweaner. I think he profiles as a guy that could grow into a Big End position. The LEO position requires a player to scream off the edge and into the backfield. The position also requires that once in the backfield if he doesn’t tackle the ball carrier coming at him, he has to be able to run with the ball carrier and push him to the rover. Bosa isn’t slow but he’s not the most explosive player either. I think he could play the position but it’s not optimal. If Saleh is moving towards more of a wide 9 in the nickel packages, then speed, quickness and agility are going to be the most important traits for the Ends. Again Bosa isn’t deficient in those areas but he’s not an elite explosive and flexible player either.

    1. Trading back is a slight possibility, but I think your right Razor. Nick Bosa is the pick! I think he was always the pick if the Niners were lucky enough to have him fall into their lap. Imagine having both Ford and Bosa, along with a deep and talented interior of the DL. And don’t make the mistake of sleeping on Kentavius Street either, as he’s a versatile as you will find in a DL, IMO.

      Just imagine the kinds of schemes Saleh can cook up with that much versatily anf talent along the 49ers front 7. Scary! What a difference 2 months can make! And I’m sure the 49ers aren’t finished with free agency just yet!

      I’m starting to hyperventilate now, so I better get some sleep. Go Niners!

    2. Gotta say, I am now feeling the team’s desired scenario will be a trade back with a team seeking a QB. I didn’t expect them to spend so big on an edge in FA. Trading for one of the top edge guys like Ford and paying him like they are… he is their Leo pass rusher, which is the position they have been desparately seeking an answer at and what I thought they would use pick #2 on. I don’t see the team being so desperate to draft the other edge they would turn back extra draft picks.

      Same goes with Q. Williams. Really good player, but don’t see the team turning back extra picks to take him.

      With the Giants now having an extra 1st and 3rd, I could see the 49ers being happy to trade #2 for #6, the Giants 2nd and a 2nd next year (to replace the one they just gave up for Ford), perhaps with a mid rounder thrown in. Good for the 49ers, while the Giants would still have two firsts and a 3rd, plus heaps of mid round picks this year.

      1. I agree.
        I think the debate will be between adding Bosa or dropping down to add a de, wr, and db all with picks in the first 2 rounds. Additionally players with limitations like Sweat and Burns become less worrisome in the wide 9 as they are less likely to be covered in sub-packages.

      2. Scooter

        Nice prognostications on the Giants choices and the 49ers ‘refilling’ next years bucket-list. I’m hoping that Arizona takes Bosa leaving Allen, Sweat, or Ferrell for us…it really doesn’t matter which…Now let’s go get Terrell Williams…

  5. Wow, just wow!!! We got a solid pass rusher, and ILB and free agency hasn’t even officially started. And for those saying we overpaid, I told you to wait and see the details, it looks like Paraag worked his magic again, and we got Kwon for a song, also signed Dee Ford for less than what the Jets paid for Mosley!

    Kudos to JL for not giving up our #2 overall for OBJ, don’t get me wrong I really loved the thought of pairing him with Kittle, Pettis, Jet, Breida, Juice, and Goodwin with Jimmy slinging the rock and making opposing defenses piss their pants. However, we all know and JL knows that our biggest must, must, must is a solid edge, and just like I predicted we’ll be double dipping there with Dee Ford and our pick of the litter in the draft! I say take Bosa if he’s there, but there are some other great fits and it’s basically a can’t mess up type situation even if we trade back a few spots. If we can’t get a solid DB or Safety in free agency, we’ll use the 2nd. Round Pick for the best DB available and then address the offense in rounds 3-5, that’s if we don’t trade back a few spots, still end up with a great Edge, and starting caliber DB and WR! Go Niners, let’s get the draft and March to NFC West dominance and the Playoffs baby!

  6. I personally love the pickup.
    While some were stating that giving up a 2 for him was 2 much I didn’t agree. Their complaint was about mixed production and injury history.
    I disagreed because in his case he has been productive every year he’s started minus his injury year. And the big difference between him and the other walking wounded… is he has shown that he’s fully recovered from his injury.

    1. This sign gets an A grade.

      I doubt anyone is complaining about the draft compensation and the contract…..

      Looks good overall…..

  7. Chiefs to Dee Ford: “Your not worth a long-term contract”
    Chiefs to John Lynch: “Dee Ford is worth a long-term contract plus a 2nd round pick.”

    I was liking Dee Ford in free agency. After KC franchise tagged him I turned my attention elsewhere. I’m surprised Lynch gave up a 2nd. GMs can often drive a hard bargain negotiating for franchise tagged players. Remember the Boldin trade?

    Hoping it’s a conditional trade. If 49ers under 8-8 pick reverts to a 3rd rounder.

    The good parts:

    We finally have an edge rusher
    If the 49ers don’t suck KC gets a late 2020 2nd
    We now have draft flexibility to trade back and recover the 2020 2nd and then some.
    We also have the option of taking Q. Williams

  8. Would be entertaining to have Grant–just as he is today…values, perceptions, judgement etc.–cover the 9ers from 1979-1995. Curious which players would’ve been written off as busts and near busts early in their careers. Who would’ve been outed as deceitful and/or bumbling coaches and execs. Anyway, this is what we have, and will have. Fine.

    I like the Ford move. Okay, he gets dinged for weak run support. Alexander is decent at run support (look at Tampa’s defensive stats before and after Kwon’s injury). As of today, I think our defense will be stronger and more dynamic. Looking forward to an improved pass rush. Secondary still needs work.

    Moving on to more FA activity and the draft.

  9. Arrowhead Pride Poll – Do you approve of the Chiefs decision to trade Dee Ford to San Francisco?

    Yes 73% (2468 votes)
    No 27% (916 votes)

    Trading a franchise tagged player for a 2nd rounder is like finding money on the sidewalk.

      1. Lynch threw the Chiefs a salary cap life preserver in the form of a 2nd round pick. If the GM gig doesn’t work out he can join the coast guard.

        I keep wishing it was a conditional pick. 7 or less wins it reverts to a 3rd.

        But if 2018 is Ford’s new normal it’s worth it. And if Lynch recovers the 2nd because Ford enabled a trade back all the better.

      2. Grant,
        Yes its telling me that the Chiefs are in salary cap hell and the 9ers are the recipients. I believe there are 3 words that describe the recent signings speed, speed and more speed. I believe that Ford’s signing guarantees one of two things, Bosa at #2 or a trade back. My money is on Bosa but I wouldn’t be upset by the latter.

      3. Fan polls. Yup.

        Wonder if media types from other areas pull up Grant’s polls to get THE pulse of 9er truth.

      4. The only thing it tells is that KC fans are still salty about the Offsides call in the AFC championship game. Which, if you watched that game the Chiefs lined up like that more than once just in the 4th. Quarter, but the refs didn’t call it until the end. Also, to blame a loss on one play is never accurate and just bad sportsmanship.

  10. Dee Ford move is good and bad move, depends how you want to look at it. He is our best edge pass rusher on paper; I just hope they find a way to install him into the defense. I’m sure they wouldn’t send a 2nd round pick and signed him to a big deal if he wasn’t right? We will see.

    The 49ers have signed two LBS now to big contracts; they have Warner and Smith as a backup. They should release Marsh and save 5 million but I guess he can be an expensive backup. They should release Arik and his 9 million and sign Thomas or at least 2 safeties and then we will have two good backups in Tartt and Colbert. Now at CB IDK because not really any good FA so might need to trade or just draft one. Then that comes to another question do the 49ers trade down, get more picks and draft a CB first then in the 2nd round draft another pass rusher?

    Now the offense. If the 49ers management thinks they can send their current offense onto the field and win, then they are sadly mistaken. They have no true WR, and please I don’t want to hear about how Dante can and will become the number 1 because by default he is their best WR but no number 1 threat. They didn’t trade for OBJ or AB or sign Bell ok that’s fine. So what will they do to address their offense? They need a red zone threat, they need a true number 1 WR and better Guard even though they resigned Person. Jerrick hasn’t played and is coming back from injury. Breida will get hurt every other week. The QB is also coming back from injury and let’s face it he didn’t play that good when he did start. The TE spot is secured and the FB but that’s all. If you look at the current lineup, that will not scare away any teams. Shanny can be a great offense minded coach but he needs playmakers and you have seen his offense the last 2 years. Granted people will say we didn’t have JG at QB, true but he can’t throw, catch and run all by himself.


    1. The current O, if they want to win needs a strong foundation. They should try to copy what Indy did to help them get in the playoffs, drafting All-Pro OG Nelson. Belichick saw weakness in the interior of the Rams OL and attacked it. So what will they do to address their offense? They also need a red zone threat, a true number 1 WR and better Guard even though they resigned Person. Also a OT, these WR’s will get more touches if JG has a few seconds to throw, they need to keep him healthy. The holes being opened up by the OL moves chains, runs the clock, helps the passing game, keeps the D rested, plus keeping the opposing O off the field. Means more wins with a great OL.

  11. Tom Pelissero – “Live on nflnetwork, our guy MJD says he spoke to his agent — Adisa Bakari, who’s also Le’Veon Bell’s agent — and Bakari said the Jets were the frontrunner all along for Bell, though another strong offer came from the 49ers … who acquired Bakari client Dee Ford last night.”

    Something tells me were not close to done in free agency.

  12. I’ll be the first to admit that my knowledge of the game today is not up to snuff. A safety who plays linebacker and a small linebacker edge rusher in a 4-3 defense. (The next Fred Dean let’s hope) But I’m lost what the overall strategy is. Now they’re going to take a DL with their first pick?????? I read one column where the writer joked that the 49ers will have 47 defensive linemen on the roster when training camp opens up. Very frustrating but the only answer appears to be more waiting and hoping until we can see what the overall strategy is. As an aside, DeFo must be excited about his future with the amount they’re paying Ford for one more sack than he got last year. The rest of the DL, keep your bags packed.

      1. Grant

        I am in full agreement with you…Terrell Williams or Justin Houston would certainly look good in Scarlet and Gold…sic ’em JL…! Justin Houston is the second coming of Fred Dean.

      2. I think the 49ers lacking an overall strategy comes from the ownership down, and infects every facet of this team. I’ve been saying this for years, but as long as the tickets are sold (and thanks to the PSAs, they are), the ownership group couldn’t care less whether the product on the field is competent or not. Since 2002 this organization seems to be content with losing.

        Are they trying to lose? I don’t think so, I just don’t think they care if they do. Eddie would NEVER have allowed the rudderless ship that watched Baalke’s rise (and obvious demise), the jettisoning of Harbaugh who was replaced by Tom-stupid who was replaced by a gimmicky college coach who didn’t stand a chance.

        Basically, I don’t get the feeling that results are expected until the heat gets too hot under Jed’s seat from fan grumbling. That’s the only time the owners act like they care. But then they make football-stupid moves like hiring a former player with no executive experience whatsoever as their GM. Sadly, I believe the days of the 9ers being relevant are long gone, and they don’t appear to be coming back. The only way that happens is if the Yorks sell the team. With that new stadium, and with the TV revenue that every team gets, it doesn’t seem plausible that they’ll ever sell.

  13. One possible scenario that I have not heard on this site is that they draft Q Williams and trade Buckner. If they believe that Williams is an elite DLineman, then they would be trading a Rookie salary for a huge next contract. They could also get quite a few top draft choices for Buckner with one year left on his rookie salary. Those draft choices could be used to fill a lot of needed positions. If they could trade down with the Raiders and get QW at four they would also get the picks from the trade down. Of course they would have to wait to see if he was still available first before trading Buckner. This would save them the money that Buckner is sure to command in an extension.

    They could work out a conditional trade depending if they get Williams. Other wise they just go to a different option.

    1. I asked that on the previous thread. It looks to me that if they pick up Williams, someone has to go. Armstead is the most logical choice and Thomas the wishful one (as if the team could get more than a ham sandwich for him), but Buckner could be the one that gets the most interest and therefore, the more likely.

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