The San Francisco 49ers made plenty of splashes in the start of the 2023 free agency period — from bolstering the interior of their defense with Javon Hargrave to adding some secondary help through Isaiah Oliver.
But they have an opportunity to continue their momentum tide — as a disruptive division rival is still available, and has been called a 49ers fit.
Heavy NFL senior reporter Matt Lombardo unveiled his five best remaining free agents on Thursday, March 30 and surprisingly, former $12 million defensive tackle Poona Ford of the Seattle Seahawks is still available. Lombardo believes Ford’s style of play makes him prime for the 49ers’ defense especially as they continue to search for a nose tackle option.
“Few things are more detrimental or disruptive to a quarterback than interior pressure, and Poona Ford excels at creating inside push from the defensive tackle spot,” Lombardo wrote. “In 2022 with the Seattle Seahawks, Ford produced 22 quarterback pressures to go with his career-high 3.0 sacks, 14 hurries and 35 total tackles.”
Ford is Still in Good Hands From a Value Standpoint
Since the official start of free agency on March 15, the unrestricted free agent Ford has gone 15 consecutive days without finding his next NFL home.
Again, a name like Hargrave became the biggest target for his position group. Meanwhile, Daron Payne resigned with the Washington Commanders as well as Fletcher Cox.
However, that doesn’t mean that the veteran Ford doesn’t have value. Lombardo points out that players in Ford’s position have proven their worth along the defensive trenches.
“Disruptive interior defenders have proven their value time and again, as the Philadelphia Eagles have seen throughout Fletcher Cox’s career, and the Kansas City Chiefs have benefited from Chris Jones’ presence along their defensive line,” Lombardo said.
He adds how he believes Ford is still among the best available — and suitable for a team still needing a powerful inside presence in the defensive trenches.
“Ford is arguably a top-15 talent at the position and could provide similar value to a contending team aiming to beef up along the trenches,” Lombardo wrote.
Not First Time Ford Was Mentioned to 49ers
Ford has been viewed as a dream fit for the 49ers before. More so for renowned defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.
On February 21, Kyle Posey of SB Nation wrote how he believes the undersized yet powerful Ford would be perfect for Kocurek and the Niners.
Said Posey: “Ford may not qualify as a splash signing, but he’s a perfect fit for what the 49ers ask of their defensive line. He’s 5-foot-11, 310-pounds, but is the type of athlete who excels at the different types of games and stunts Kris Kocurek likes to run and is durable in good enough shape where he doesn’t have to come off the field on obvious passing downs.”
Posey added how he believed Ford was “misused” as a defender in the Seahawks’ defense. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, via Gregg Bell of the Seattle News Tribune, even shared to reporters after the season that by moving around Ford from a three-technique to a five, “I think we wore him down.”
Now, Ford remains on the open market. And for a 49ers team that’s been missing a D.J. Jones type presence in the middle, Ford fits perfectly for the role.