49ers

49ers' Dee Ford played huge role in Vikings QB Kirk Cousins' struggles

49ers' Dee Ford played huge role in Vikings QB Kirk Cousins' struggles

Everybody has that one friend who just makes things better. Every great team has that one player who does the same. Dee Ford was the friendly face the 49ers couldn't wait to have back Saturday against the Minnesota Vikings. 

Ford returned to the 49ers in their 27-10 win over the Vikings in their NFC divisional-round playoff game for the first time since Week 14, a game in which he only played four snaps. The defensive end had been dealing with a strained hamstring, and his impact surely was felt by both San Francisco and Minnesota.

Just ask Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

Ford played 22 snaps in the win. He still made his mark, too. When Ford was on the field, Cousins completed nine of 14 passes for only 48 yards and was intercepted once, according to the NFL's Next Gen Stats. With Ford off the field, Cousins went 12-for-15 for 124 yards, one TD and no INTs. 

“Dee's speed off the edge is one of a kind,” defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said. “It really opens up more opportunity for the guys in the inside, also for Nick on the opposite side. They can't pick and choose every time on where they want to slide the protection or who they want to double. They have to change it up.

"It's very challenging when you have four guys that can rush the passer.”

Bosa had two sacks, one quarterback hit and four hurries in his playoff debut. He also had three run stops on just seven snaps against the run, according to Pro Football Focus.

“I knew getting Dee back and getting Kwon, Tartt, just having them on the field, it's a completely different energy,” Bosa said. “It's the energy we had early in the year. It's really fun playing on a really good team, just knowing that every person around you is going to do their job really well. Makes it a lot easier for me.”

[RELATED: How Dee Ford's return changed 49ers' defense in playoff win]

Ford finished the day with three total pressures -- one sack, one hit, one hurry -- in 17 pass-rush snaps, according to PFF. His impact was felt by the Vikings and made all of the 49ers' feared defensive line that much better. 

There's no doubt keeping Ford healthy and on the field for crucial plays will be a major key to the 49ers reaching Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

NFL Draft 2020: Justin Jefferson, Jalen Reagor meet 49ers at combine

justinjeffersonusa.jpg
USATSI

NFL Draft 2020: Justin Jefferson, Jalen Reagor meet 49ers at combine

Despite only possessing one pick before the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the 49ers still are doing their due diligence at the NFL Scouting Combine this week in Indianapolis.

San Francisco has met with a pair of wide receivers this week in LSU product Justin Jefferson and former TCU speedster Jalen Reagor.

Jefferson, who was part of LSU’s national championship-winning squad in 2019, said his meeting with the 49ers was informal, while Reagor mentioned that the team highlighted his versatility when discussing his potential fit within the offense.

Coming off a trip to the Super Bowl, the Niners aren’t faced with a lot of glaring needs along the roster, but wide receiver certainly ranks high among the few holes general manager John Lynch must address this offseason.

The 49ers didn’t have a wide receiver eclipse the 1,000-yard mark last season, with All-Pro tight end George Kittle barely surpassing it (1,053).

Jefferson caught an NCAA Division I-best 111 passes for the Tigers in 2019 and closed out his final collegiate season with 1,540 yards. In the latest NBC Sports Bay Area mock draft, Jefferson wasn't available when the Niners were on the clock at No. 31.

[RELATED: 49ers have solid running backs, but group lacks something]

Reagor’s broad skillset likely would mesh well with the 49ers’ motion-heavy offense, as Reagor made big plays for the Horned Frogs in the running, receiving, and return game during his three seasons in Fort Worth.

This will be Lynch and Shanahan’s first opportunity to draft outside of the top five in the first round, as they hope to build on a breakout 2019 season.

49ers hoping receiver Jalen Hurd will be cleared for offseason program

49ers hoping receiver Jalen Hurd will be cleared for offseason program

INDIANAPOLIS -- Even before the 49ers have the opportunity to select a wide receiver in the draft, the club expects to add the services of a young pass-catcher.

Jalen Hurd, a third-round draft pick from a year ago, appears to be on schedule to receive clearance to rejoin the 49ers when the offseason program begins in April. Hurd spent his rookie season on injured reserve due to a stress fracture in his lower back.

“For it to completely heal, it happens on different timelines,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “We found that his has been stubborn. We think he’s been nearing towards a much better place where he’ll be cleared for all activities.

“(We) don’t want to officially give that word, but there have been some recent scans and things that give us a lot of hope that that’ll be the case, come April 1, he’ll be a full-go.”

Hurd was not around the team too much during his rookie season. He did not travel to Miami for Super Bowl LIV due to concerns about aggravating his back condition.

“I think there’s a little anxiety on his part that the long plane rides had set him off before and he worked so hard to try to get right, and kind of didn’t want that to enter the equation,” Lynch said.

[RELATED49ers roster analysis: More receiver depth needed around Deebo Samuel]

In order for Hurd's back to heal, the 49ers and Hurd felt it was best to keep him off his feet.  

“With his back stuff, he didn’t want to travel, didn’t want to be in the meetings and everything," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "There wasn’t much to do. He had a stress fracture and it’s taking a long time to heal, so we wanted him to be as immobile as possible.”

Hurd (6-foot-4, 227 pounds) caught 69 passes for 946 yards and four touchdowns in his senior season at Baylor in 2018. He played his first three college seasons at Tennessee, where he rushed for 2,635 yards and 20 touchdowns as a running back.

Hurd appeared in the 49ers’ preseason opener last summer and caught two touchdown passes against the Dallas Cowboys before experiencing the back condition that sidelined him for the rest of the season.