San Francisco 49ers edge rusher Dee Ford played just one game last fall and then neck and back injuries kept him sidelined for the remainder of the season––however, after a long offseason of rehab, he will be ready to go against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
And despite being sidelined for so long, Ford still feels like he’s coming back right where he left off for the 2021 season.
“I’ve never really felt out of rhythm coming back because I stayed here most of the offseason,” Ford told the media on Monday via SI. “I worked my hands every day. There was nothing I really needed to do to get back to being consistent.”
While he feels 100% healthy, the Niners will ease him back into the scene on Sunday by putting him on “pitch count,” which means he won’t be playing the entire game. But that’s not going to stop the Pro Bowler from making an impact.
“My role is to do what they brought me here to do,” he said, “Make big plays.”
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Ford Shut Down Retirement Rumors
2019 was a good year for Ford after he recorded 6.5 sacks in 2019 (plus another in the postseason), so naturally, there were big expectations as he entered the 2020 season. He ended up recording zero, for obvious reasons.
Following the end of last year, rumors swirled that Ford might retire due to a back problem.
He recently put the rumors to rest, despite the long road to recovery.
“Hell no,” Ford said during Niners’ training camp. “No. No. I put in too much work. I haven’t put my best ball on tape yet. This is my life. This is what I do.”
Ford admitted he had no clue how long he would be out for last season, but the weeks kept adding up and soon he came to the realization that his season had ended.
“Initially, it was 4-5 weeks, but then that turned into ten weeks, then that turned into 15,” Ford shared. “As things progressed, we just kind of found out this thing was going to take a little longer than we expected. But we got it done.”
Nick Bosa Is Also Returning
Alongside Ford, star defender Nick Bosa will also be making his Week 1 return.
Bosa’s presence was missed last season Niners finished 6-10 following a 2019 Super Bowl appearance which Bosa played a key role in. His 2020 season was cut short due to an ACL tear in his left knee, but he returned back to practice in full pads on August 25th.
The former second overall pick out of Ohio State in the 2019 NFL Draft made his mark in the league right away as recorded 47 total tackles as a rookie, 16 for loss, and 9.0 sacks. He also recovered two fumbles and one interception.
With the return of several key playmakers on defense, opposing offenses are doomed, according to tight end George Kittle.
“On the opposite side of Nick Bosa, you’ve got Dee Ford. You’ve got Arik Armstead,” Kittle said during an appearance on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football”. “Now we bring back our All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner and the two young guys outside of him who’ve been learning (and) had a great OTAs. And we bring back five starters in the secondary. Our defense is scary. It was shown in the Super Bowl. If you can’t move the ball against a defense, you can’t put up points. Defense wins championships at the end of the day.”
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