At full strength, the 49ers' pass rush arguably is the best in the NFL. But shortly before that unit could live up to its reputation in the season opener, San Francisco got a major scare when Dee Ford sustained a lower leg injury late in training camp.
The 49ers -- and their fans -- can exhale, though. The edge rusher explained Thursday that he is fully recovered, and his absence from practice last week was out of precaution to avoid making the injury worse (h/t 49ers Webzone)
"When you're dealing with a calf, you don't want to risk it getting to that Achilles tendon," Ford said on a video conference call with reporters. "At the end of the day, we had to jump on it because our goal, and especially my goal, which is the team's goal, is to be there 16 games plus postseason. And I'm not going to waive on that at all. We just had to get that [injury] right."
Ford was limited to 11 regular-season games in his first season with the 49ers because of injury, but the team's 10-1 record in those contests speak to his effectiveness. He hopes to exceed last season's 6.5 sacks in the upcoming campaign, and obviously, remaining healthy will be crucial in that endeavor.
Based on what 49ers general manager John Lynch -- who referred to the injury as an "Achilles tweak" -- said Thursday, it sounds like Ford is set up to have a big season.
"The good news is he's back out there," Lynch said on KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks" show, "and he's looked really, really -- I mean, you guys all know, when he's right, his get-off is second to none in this league, and that's what I'm seeing out here. I think his expectation, his mindset is, 'I don't want to come off the field.' "
It would be difficult for the 49ers to be a better defensive team than they were last season. But if Ford can stay healthy, it's not out of the question.