Defensive end Dee Ford collected 6.5 sacks in 11 games during his first season with the 49ers.
And he did it while experiencing severe knee tendinitis that required offseason surgery.
Ford, speaking with reporters Friday morning in a video call, revealed he underwent surgery a "couple weeks" after the 49ers’ Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure on Ford's left knee n Pensacola, Florida.
“It was a pretty extensive cleanup,” Ford said. “I feel great right now. I’ve been rehabbing here in Alabama. I feel great right now.”
Ford missed most of training camp last summer after undergoing a platelet-rich plasma injection. He returned for the start of the regular season but aggravated the condition in practices on an artificial surface in Youngstown, Ohio, leading up to the 49ers’ Week 2 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was not able to finish that game due to his condition.
“We were spot on with the injury, as far as diagnosing it in training camp,” Ford said. “I had a severe case of tendinitis. Although it’s not an ACL tear, with my position, that’s a blown tire.”
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Ford missed significant time late in the season with a hamstring strain, a possible issue from compensation for his knee issues. He was not at 100 percent for the postseason but managed one sack in three playoff games.
“I’m able to actually explode off of this knee,” Ford said. “Thinking back on it, I can’t believe I played a whole season on it. And we knew at the end of the day what we had to do -- (it) had to be surgical. But I didn’t want to miss the season. We had too much going on. I didn’t want to miss that. It’s in the bag now. I’m confident in that.”
Although Ford was nowhere near top condition physically, he said other areas of his game developed to the point that he could still be a productive player. If everything comes together in 2020, Ford believes he could exceed his production of 2018, when he registered 13 sacks with the Chiefs. The 49ers acquired Ford in a trade last offseason for a second-round draft pick.
“Even though I had those hiccups going on, I felt a lot more confident, I felt a lot more powerful, I felt a lot more explosive,” Ford said. “This is crazy to say, going into Year 7, but it does slow down even more, which is scarier for me.
“I was able to see a lot more. I was a lot more confident. (I) just wasn’t able to stay out on the field. So alleviating that problem is definitely going to put me in an advantageous situation this year. I’m trying to rack up as many sacks and TFL’s (tackles for loss) as I can and help our team get back to the Super Bowl.”