When it comes to putting pressure and sacking quarterbacks, the San Francisco 49ers are in good hands.
After all, San Francisco finished tied-for-fifth in total sacks in the 2019 regular-season, as the 49ers’ defensive line made life difficult for quarterback all across the league.
The Niners’ front was so impressive, that Pro Football Focus senior writer Ben Linsey said that not only does San Francisco have the best pass-rushing combo in the NFL, but they may have the second-best duo to boot in the forms of rushers Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead, as well as Bosa and defensive end Dee Ford.
“Honestly, you can go with Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead, or Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, whichever one you want, I think that’s the best duo in the NFL.
“Ford was a guy who played hurt last year for pretty much the entire season and still put up good numbers when he was healthy. Armstead and Bosa were both Top-10 guys at their positions, I think [the 49ers] have a really dangerous four-man pass rush with those three guys and Javon Kinlaw when they decide to go into nickel.”
Without even considering the potential of 2020 NFL Draft 14th overall pick Javon Kinlaw, the 49ers don’t seem to be missing a step ahead of a 2020 season that assuredly contains hopes for a return to the Super Bowl.
Bosa and Armstead’s Return
While the departure of defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was an unfortunate consequence of getting Armstead a new deal, getting Kinlaw via the first-round pick received from the Indianapolis Colts was a shrewd piece of business, and it also kept the two-most productive pass-rushers on the 49ers roster.
Armstead clocked in with 10 sacks while Bosa totaled nine on his way to being named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year. The pair totaled 43 hits on QBs, which is a sign of legitimate success even if neither of the pair cracked into the NFL’s top-five in sacks.
In terms of predicting the pair’s numbers for 2020, it’s a complex situation. On one hand, Bosa can only be expected to improve on his rookie numbers after initial success in Santa Clara, California.
On the other hand, Bosa, Armstead and the whole front being dangerous means that pass-rushing isn’t just on an edge like Bosa. Either way, there’s no reason to think that Armstead and Bosa won’t live up to the hype in 2020.
Potential for Ford to Breakout
When Ford is able to get on the field at 100 percent, he’s statistically proven to be one of the NFL’s best. In the two seasons he’s started more than 14 games (2016 and 2018,) Ford totaled 10 and 13 sacks with the Kansas City Chiefs.
In his first season with the 49ers, he appeared in 11 regular season games and started just two games, totaling 6.5 sacks in the process. However, tendinitis hindered the defensive end from being the player the NFL has seen in 2016 and 2018.
Ford has recently said that his surgery and recovery from tendinitis has gone very well, so it’s only good news for San Francisco in regards to his second-year in California.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, MT. Follow and reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier.