49ers Unlikely to Re-Add $85.5 Million Defender, GM Says

John Lynch

Getty John Lynch before the January 2020 NFC title game.

It’s looking like the San Francisco 49ers will be clearing up more salary cap space soon. But this time by severing ties with one defender.

And after facing a nebulous future with the franchise dating back to December 2021, the Dee Ford era in the Bay Area is likely nearing its end as general manager John Lynch noted on Monday, March 28.

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49ers to Likely Part Ways Soon With Defensive Lineman

Per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, the 49ers are likely going to sever ties with the former first round edge rusher from the 2014 NFL Draft — who once signed a five-year, $85.5 million contract with the 49ers.

“I don’t see a lot of hope with him being a factor for us on the field moving forward,” Lynch said at the NFL Annual Meeting.

The decision to part ways with Ford, as Lynch said, has more to do with a health ailment that prevented him from returning at full strength with the 49ers.

“I think we tried to be as patient as possible, and no fault of Dee, he just ran into a bad situation with his back, where he couldn’t get healthy,” Lynch said.

As of now, there’s no time table of when the ‘Niners will officially release Ford, but as Lynch said “We’ll figure that out, exactly what the transaction will be. But not enough hope and progress to see him playing for us moving forward.”

Should the 49ers decide on June 1 as the deadline to part ways with the 31-year-old defender, David Lombardi of The Athletic noted that the franchise would free up $1.12 million of cap space.

Currently, per Over The Cap, the 49ers have the least amount of cap space available among NFC West teams at $2,093,752.

Ford’s Production With the 49ers

The 6-foot-2, 252-pounder never played a full season since coming over to the 49ers in 2019. When he left the Kansas City Chiefs, he left having produced his best campaign as a pro yet — 13 sacks which still represents a career-best total.

He first came to the Bay as part of a huge trade the Chiefs made.

There was some early promise in his first season in the Bay Area. He produced 6.5 sacks in joining in on the fierce pass rush that eventually led to the 49ers’ seventh conference title.

But that was a season that saw Ford manage to squeeze in 11 games with just two starts. Since that season, Ford has been unable to crack the starting rotation due to injuries the past two seasons.

When he was healthy during the 2021 season, plus when he was called upon to line up in the 49ers’ deep trench rotation under defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, Ford was able to bring the quick heat that turned him into a sack threat:

Ford’s final numbers with the 49ers: 18 total games, two starts, three forced fumbles (two during 2019 season), 22 tackles (14 solo) and 9.5 total sacks.

With no Ford, the 49ers witnessed the rise of Arden Key as the team’s second-leading pass rusher plus saw Jordan Willis and Kentavius Street make their impact in the line rotation.

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