Injuries plagued just about every position group for the 49ers in 2020, and what was supposed to be a revenge tour after a narrow Super Bowl loss instead produced a 6-10 season and a last-place finish in the NFC West.
That included the 49ers' pass rush, with Dee Ford and Nick Bosa both being limited to less than three games. Bosa went down with a torn ACL in Week 2, while Ford hurt his back between Weeks 1 and 2 and wasn't able to return to the field in 2020. During an appearance on KNBR earlier this week, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan gave an encouraging update on the status of his two pass-rushers.
"Dee Ford, everyone knows what he's been going through the last year and a half, it's just tough when you're dealing with a back and neck and things like that, but he's put the work in, he felt great coming into camp and we've taken it on very slowly, tried to build him up," Shanahan said Thursday. "These last few practices he's gotten more and more reps, and playing at a high level, and the key is to keep him going in football shape so it's not about just getting to Week 1, it's about trying to help us throughout the year.
"Bosa, he's healthy enough to go, but you got to be smart with him. He's ahead of schedule, any doctor you talk to no matter how good you feel, the more time you get the percentages of it getting stronger and stronger helps that much more, and that's where he's at. He looks great in individuals, he looks great on the side, but we're still gonna try to wait here probably a week to two weeks before we try to put him up against our players."
Shanahan said the tentative plan is to try and get him live on-field work before the 49ers' final preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders. Bosa was the 49ers' No. 2 overall pick just a few years ago, and with his age, the coaching staff certainly will err on the side of caution when it comes to bringing him back on the field.
The 49ers' defense fed off the pass rush on the way to being one of the league's best units in 2019, and Bosa and Ford's returns will be critical to recapturing that success in 2021.