SANTA CLARA — The 49ers play three preseason games in a 10-day span, which partially influenced their decision not to rush players back onto the field for Saturday's contest against the Chiefs.
When asked if ailing defensive end Dee Ford was going to make his preseason debut in front of his former team, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh explained that there was no need to hurry the pass rusher back into action.
“Dee Ford, just like the other guys that haven’t been able to go, there’s no rush for this, especially on a short week” Saleh said. “The Monday night game on the road and then going again on the road Saturday.
“For Dee, it’s just again going and checking in with the performance staff, see where he’s at. If he’s able to, great. If not, there’s no pressing need. Again, it’s up to the performance staff and how that goes.”
Ford had a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection in his knee at the beginning of August to help him with recurring tendinitis. He has been held out of team drills since the procedure, but Saleh is confident Ford will be able to step in once he is healthy without missing a beat.
“Yeah, for sure,” Saleh said. “Dee Ford’s position here is less mentally taxing than what it was with the Chiefs.”
The team also will not rush back safety Jimmie Ward, who broke his collarbone 12 weeks ago. While the average recovery time for a collarbone is six to eight weeks, the team is being cautious with Ward -- who has had several injuries spanning his NFL career.
Saleh and the remainder of the coaching staff has confidence in Ward’s ability, as they do with Ford.
“For Jimmie, it’s no different than as if it was the first day of camp,” Saleh said. “So, he’s going to come in, he’s going to practice, he’s going to get his reps in and we’ll talk about the plan for him during the game during the week for game action, but just see where he’s at.
“But, I think mentally, he’ll be okay. He’s been in all the meetings, he’s been going through all of it, he’s been in individual, he’s been at all the walk-throughs, so it’ll be a quick adjustment for him.”
The game in Kansas City will, however, serve as the preseason debuts for defensive lineman DeForest Buckner and linebacker Kwon Alexander.
Alexander is coming off an ACL injury and has made great progress in his rehab, and Saleh has taken notice.
“You know what, I give credit, one to him, with his work ethic, two to the performance staff and the plan that they’ve had for him, and everybody executing it,” Saleh said.
“He’s come along well. He’s made great strides from his first day of practice until now, so I’m excited to get him out there and see what he does for his first game action. It’s no pressure for him to go and be great, an All-Pro in his first preseason action, it’s just go out there, get his game reps in and get back comfortable playing football.”