49ers add Kwon Alexander, Dee Ford to defense for 'speed and violence'

49ers add Kwon Alexander, Dee Ford to defense for 'speed and violence'

The 49ers introduced two new free-agent acquisitions on Thursday, and both edge rusher Dee Ford and linebacker Kwon Alexander were brought in for the same traits.

“Speed and violence affect the quarterback,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said, “and make people do stupid things before they want to. Both of these guys have a lot of speed and they both play violently.” 

The 49ers received the dubious honor of breaking the record for the lowest turnover totals in 2018. They only mustered two interceptions (32nd) and recovered five fumbles (T-28th). Ford and Alexander were brought in to improve those statistics. 

“That wasn’t fun to watch,” general manager John Lynch said. “It is something we have to live with and it’s a reality and we needed to change that and you’re exactly right. These are the type of players that we believe can reverse that trend.” 

Shanahan recalled the first time he coached against Alexander as the Falcons' offensive coordinator. It seemed to leave a lasting impression. 

“He taught me a hard lesson that you better game plan for him,” Shanahan said, "because I didn’t the first game of 2016. We started out 0-1 because of it. It was bad. It was so bad that Julio asked me after the game if he could play fullback and block him.”

Shanahan is not just relieved to not have to face Alexander. Ford also has left a nightmarish impression on the 49ers head coach.

“You can turn on the tape,” Shanahan said, “and he scares you as a coach because you can see how fast he gets off the ball. Not all pass rushers you can see that. But as soon as you press play, you can see that. I’m glad don’t have to get freaked out watching that anymore.” 

Ford not only tallied 13 sacks in his final season with the Chiefs, he forced seven fumbles. That is more than half of the 13 that the entire 49ers defense managed in 2018. Ford also racked up 29 quarterback hits. Just for perspective, DeForest Buckner lead the team with 20. 

"Dee he has a knack for getting the ball out,” Lynch said. “And as Kyle said, that first step is lethal. We think that can help our entire team. Get that virus going where we’re taking away the ball on a regular basis.” 

Lynch noted that having Alexander on the defense should also help change the team’s lack of turnovers. 

[RELATED: Why Dee Ford fits mold of the 49ers' prototypical 'leo' edge rusher]

“Kwon, he’s always had a propensity,” Lynch said. “He’s always around the ball. There’s so many things to like, but that is definitely something that jumps.” 

Making the defense more aggressive was a priority for the 49ers this offseason as seen by their free-agency moves. They will have opportunities to improve it further with the defensive depth of this year's draft class as well. 

Watch 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan recite his longest play from memory


Watch 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan recite his longest play from memory

If you're like me, you can't remember anything. This is the part where I say, "I can barely remember what I had for breakfast," but you caught me on a good day.

Toast with butter and strawberry jelly, and scrambled eggs -- with ketchup, because I'm weird. 

So when it comes to remembering an entire football play  ... well, that's why some of us play the sport -- and others just watch it.

Listen to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan recite his longest play:

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has to memorize these types of plays, which is insane. Then has to relay the information to the huddle -- yeah I know, you know football. I'm just trying to remind you of the steps. But at least Jimmy G gets to repeat the play at least one additional time, right?

That should be enough. 

[RELATED: David Carr doesn't rank Montana as top-10 Super Bowl-era QB]

I asked five-year veteran quarterback Sean Salisbury about the longest play he had to memorize in his NFL career.

"Explode to double right, Zoom, Scat right 585 Dodge, X Post check with me 60 outside. Double cadence on 2," Salisbury told NBC Sports Bay Area. "That’s one."

So Shanahan isn't the only "wizard" in this scenario -- or any of the scenarios. 

Chip Kelly 'not surprised' ex-49ers assistant prevented school shooting


Chip Kelly 'not surprised' ex-49ers assistant prevented school shooting

Chip Kelly knows the type of person Keanon Lowe is. It's why Kelly recruited Lowe as a football player at the University of Oregon, and years later had him on his staffs with the Eagles and 49ers as an assistant.

When Lowe prevented a school shooting Friday at Parkrose High in Portland, Ore., Kelly wasn't surprised at all. In fact, what the now-UCLA coach wanted to know was Lowe's form in going from a former receiver to a defensive player in a heroic act.

“I wanted to know his [tackling] technique,” Kelly said Saturday to Scott Osler of the San Francisco Chronicle. “He told me it was like when he was on kickoff coverage, it really didn’t matter how you tackled 'em as long as you got 'em to the ground.”

Lowe now is the head football coach and security guard at Parkrose. The school was on a 23-game losing streak when he arrived, and Kelly isn't surprised Lowe would step into a situation so far from the NFL.

"He’s just a special person that’s always wanting to help and serve," Kelly said. "He’s the type of kid you just want to be around him. He’s a special young man, and I think everybody is fortunate he was where he was yesterday afternoon.”

[RELATED: Kerr lauds ex-49ers assistant for preventing school shooting]

Lowe played two seasons under Kelly at Oregon. He made 18 tackles on special teams between his freshman and sophomore years.