The 49ers do not appear to be banking on Dee Ford’s return this season, but general manager John Lynch has been pleased to see progress.
Ford sustained an unspecified back injury during a practice after the 49ers’ Week 1 game against the Arizona Cardinals last season. He did not practice or play for the remainder of the season. And Lynch did not sound optimistic immediately following the season that Ford would be available for 2021, either.
On Monday, Lynch sounded a bit more upbeat when discussing Ford’s status. Ford has been rehabilitating daily at the 49ers' facility in Santa Clara.
“Dee's doing well,” Lynch said. “With that type of injury, you don't want to get too high or too low, and I think he's really in a good place. He's working. He's been here every day. He's working extremely hard. It's encouraging to look out my window and see things progress, but I think we'll leave it at that.”
The 49ers this offseason created approximately $11 million in salary-cap space with a restructure of Ford’s contract. He reduced his 2021 pay from $16 million to a fully guaranteed $7 million.
Originally, Ford had an $11.6 million injury guarantee. He still is guaranteed that money with a guaranteed $4.6 million roster bonus in 2022.
The new contract voids in 2023, and the reworked deal makes it considerably more palatable for the 49ers to move on from Ford, if he is unable to play again or return to anything close to his pre-injury form.
“I think both sides won there,” Lynch said.
The 49ers signed former Los Angeles Rams edge rusher Samson Ebukam to a two-year, $12 million contract early in free agency. Ebukam likely will take over as one of the team’s nickel edge rushers this season. Ebukam registered 4.5 sacks each of the past two seasons.
“From what I’ve been told, I’m expected to be on that field,” Ebukam said after signing with the 49ers. “And, yeah, I’m excited to hear that because it’s just more of an opportunity for me to showcase what I can do.”