Dee Ford doesn’t have fond memories of chasing down Kyler Murray.
The hamstring issue that limited the 49ers pass rusher for the remainder of last season occurred while he was in pursuit of Murray in Week 11. As the Cardinals quarterback gave himself up, Ford attempted to stop his own momentum and was forced into an awkward position. Ford sat out five games and played limited snaps in the postseason as a result.
Ford now is fully recovered, and the 49ers have had a season's worth of film to watch and adjust their approach to Murray.
“We simplified things so we can play fast,” Ford said. “When we play fast as a defense, no one can stop us, and you’re definitely not going to outrun us. Execution is key for this game.”
The 49ers won both matchups with the Cardinals last year, but Ford wants to keep the momentum going into this season. In 2019, San Francisco's defense faced some of the NFL's best mobile quarterbacks in Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson and Murray. Ford deems them all slightly different.
“He’s different than Russell as far as what he can do as far as extending plays,” Ford said Thursday. “Russell is in a category of his own, [and] so is Kyler. They do it in different ways, but they are both mobile.
“Kyler can definitely pick you apart. He can get out of the pocket. He can make things happen. We’ve found ways, at least we’re going to try, to slow down their playmaking ability and allow us to do what we do best.”
Ford explained that while he and his 49ers teammates weren’t taken off guard by the Cardinals' offense, the first matchup was on a Thursday night. The short week didn’t allow as much preparation as they have for Sunday’s opener.
Now at full strength, the 49ers are set to return to Levi’s Stadium with revenge on their minds, even though they won both games against the Cardinals last season.