49ers

Dee Ford, known for costly penalty, could help 49ers become contenders

Dee Ford, known for costly penalty, could help 49ers become contenders

The next time we see Dee Ford play in an NFL game, it'll reportedly be in a 49ers uniform.

The last time we saw Dee Ford play in an NFL game, he arguably cost the Chiefs a shot at the Super Bowl.

It's true. With his team leading the Patriots 28-24 and 1:01 remaining in the 4th quarter of the 2019 AFC Championship Game, Ford’s former teammate Charvarius Ward appeared to clinch the victory for Kansas City when he intercepted New England quarterback Tom Brady on 3rd-and-10.

Unfortunately for the Chiefs, however, the interception was negated because Ford lined up offside. The Patriots retained possession and went on to score a touchdown to take a temporary lead. The Chiefs then tied the score at 31-31 with a field goal in the final seconds of regulation, but we all know how that one ultimately worked out.

The Patriots are reigning Super Bowl champions. And Dee Ford is no longer a member of the Chiefs.

It’s truly a shame that Ford’s most memorable play as a professional football player is one so notoriously remembered by his former team’s fan base. Because Ford is one hell of a football player.

Make no mistake, the Chiefs didn’t let Ford go because they didn’t want him, or as some form of retribution for that costly penalty. Ford was rated as the top edge rusher by Pro Football Focus last year, and you don’t let that kind of talent go voluntarily.

No, this was more about planning for the future from the Chiefs’ perspective. Patrick Mahomes took the NFL by storm this past season, and the promising young quarterback likely will receive a contract that will dwarf all others once his rookie deal comes to an end.

So, the Chiefs had to make a tough decision, and the 49ers were there to capitalize.

San Francisco has more money to spend than they know what to do with, so the five-year, $87.5 million contract they reportedly gave Ford -- after the Chiefs rescinded their franchise tag -- isn't a long-term concern. Plus, given the creativity they've used in structuring deals in recent years, it wouldn't be surprising if we learned Ford's contract was primarily front-loaded.

And, by the way, Ford is worth it.

In terms of average annual value (AAV), his new reported deal puts him right in line with other edge rushers that have reportedly reached agreements in free agency, and you could certainly make the case Ford is the best of the bunch.

Former Patriot Trey Flowers, 25, reportedly agreed to a five-year, $90 million contract with the Lions in free agency, with an AAV of $18 million per season. He accounted for 7.5 sacks and 78 quarterback pressures (second-most in NFL) for New England last season.

Former Raven Za'Darius Smith, 26, reportedly agreed to a four-year, $66 million contract with the Packers, with an AAV of $16.5 million per season. He registered 8.5 sacks and 60 total quarterback pressures for Baltimore last season.

Ford, 27, tied for eighth in the NFL last season with 13.0 sacks for the Chiefs. His 84 quarterback pressures ranked first among all edge defenders in the league. His seven forced fumbles equaled as many as the entire 49ers' defense combined.

And all it cost them -- other than the money -- was a 2020 second-round pick.

The 49ers endured more than their fair share of injuries last season, and to some very crucial players early on like quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon. One would assume they won't have as poor injury luck in the year ahead, and with an influx of talent -- namely Ford, linebacker Kwon Alexander and the second overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft -- San Francisco could very well make the leap next season.

Just for fun, let's say they finish 9-7. That would make their 2020 second-round pick roughly the 50th pick overall. That's not just a price you pay every single time.

That's highway robbery.

[RELATED: Why Ford trade made more sense for 49ers than OBJ]

The 49ers' biggest need entering the offseason -- by far -- was that of an edge rusher, and likely multiple. They've addressed that need with their reported trade for Ford, and done so without emptying their cupboards of assets. They still possess the second overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft, and if they use that selection on, say, Ohio State's Nick Bosa or Kentucky's Josh Allen, it's easy to see why the 49ers would be excited.

Adding Ford to a pass rush that includes former first-round picks DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and Arik Armstead, as well as potentially Bosa or Allen, would give San Francisco one of the most talented, daunting defensive lines in the league.

The 49ers still have a long way to go to build a championship contender, but Ford -- despite his previous mishap -- is the exact kind of player that will help them get there.

Watch Tom Brady get trolled by Samuel L. Jackson in 'The Match' intros

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Watch Tom Brady get trolled by Samuel L. Jackson in 'The Match' intros

Who would you want to narrate any portion of your life? Samuel L. Jackson could be a top pick for any occasion, especially when some of the greatest athletes of our generation hit the greens.

But he’s not holding back -- not even for charity.

The Match: Champions for Charity debuted on Sunday with golf pros Tiger Woods facing Phil Mickelson in a highly-anticipated event. Woods teamed up with NFL legend Peyton Manning with another NFL superstar, Tom Brady, paired with Mickelson.

During the introductions, being narrated by Jackson, Brady received a funny quip from Jackson:

“Why do old people always move to Florida?” he said. We knew the trash talk would happen, but wow. 

Brady, of course, just signed a two-year, $60 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March after spending the entirety of his 20-year career with the New England Patriots. And at 42-years-old, Jackson took quite the dig at the three-time MVP quarterback.

[RELATED: Kyle Shanahan discusses 49ers' pursuit of Brady]

But if you’re going to get trolled by anyone, it might as well be done by someone with as epic of a voice as Jackson.

The entertainment was worth the burn. 

Do 49ers have more offensive weapons than Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams?

Do 49ers have more offensive weapons than Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams?

Built by a mastermind in Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers' offense was much more a sum of parts than full of stars last season. The same can be said for this upcoming season as well.

Outside of George Kittle, the 49ers don't have any true star skill players. And yet, they ranked No. 2 in rushing offense and total points last season, behind only the Baltimore Ravens, which were led by MVP Lamar Jackson. San Francisco also was 13th in passing yards per game and fourth in total yards. 

With the emergence of the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks always being contenders, the NFC West might have become even stronger this offseason. So, how does the 49ers' skill positions on offense compare to the rest of the division? 

Let's break it down, position by position.

Quarterback

The obvious answer here is Seahawks star Russell Wilson is the cream of the crop when it comes to QBs in the NFC West. We know that, there's no arguing that notion. 

Where it gets interesting is, who comes next?

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray took home the Offensive Rookie of the Year in a pass-heavy offense that seems primed for him to put up huge numbers. Jimmy Garoppolo gets knocked all too often, but the reality is he had one of the best seasons for a quarterback in 49ers history, one season after tearing his ACL. And then there's Jared Goff, who took a big step back last season. 

It seems Garoppolo and Murray are vying for who's No. 2 in the NFC West QB race. It will be fascinating to watch, as both offenses got better and both teams have offensive-minded coaches who should set their quarterbacks up for success.

Advantage: Seahawks

Running backs

After the Los Angeles Rams let Todd Gurley go this offseason, there aren't any true big-name running backs in the NFC West. Raheem Mostert looked like a star in the making for the 49ers with his historic performance in the NFC Championship Game, but can they rely on him to be a true No. 1 back? 

Mostert is preparing like he will get 200 carries this season, however, that seems unlikely. Even after trading Matt Breida to the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco still has a deep group of backs that will share carries outside of Mostert.

Kenyan Drake could be an emerging star in Arizona and the Rams will rotate a flurry of inexperienced backs, including rookie Cam Akers. The Seahawks have a strong option in 1,000-yard rusher Chris Carson and will use many backs after him. 

Drake and Carson might be the most gifted of the group in the NFC West, but there's a caveat with the 49ers: Jerick McKinnon looks healthy again and receiver Deebo Samuel should be seen as an extra ball-carrier.

Advantage: 49ers

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Receivers

Everything changed once the Cardinals acquired DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans this offseason. Arizona now has one of the best receivers in the league, and a true No. 1 for their young QB. Pairing Hopkins with the ultra-reliable Larry Fitzgerald gives the Cardinals one of the best duos in the NFL. 

D.K. Metcalf is a problem for opposing cornerbacks and the jacked-up receiver should be even better in Year 2 for the Seahawks. He and Tyler Lockett give Seattle a solid duo, and the Rams' one-two punch of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods is nothing to scoff at. 

So, where do the 49ers fit in? Samuel looks like the perfect weapon for Shanahan and should emerge as the No. 1 receiver for San Francisco. Kendrick Bourne continues to be clutch and is a nice secondary option. After that, it's all potential and a lot of question marks.

The 49ers have high hopes for first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk, and the same goes for Jalen Hurd and Trent Taylor coming off injuries. General manager John Lynch also haven't given up on Dante Pettis yet. 

The Cardinals have the star power, but the 49ers could have the depth. We'll give this one to Arizona, though, it's a tight contest.

Advantage: Cardinals

[RELATED: Why 49ers' Aiyuk could struggle finding targets as rookie]

Tight End

George Kittle. 

Need I say more? No, no I don't. Will Dissly (Seattle), Tyler Higbee (Los Angeles) and Maxx Williams (Arizona) all are nice pieces. None are Kittle. Not even close. 

Advantage: 49ers

The 49ers might not have the most star power, but they do have the most offensive weapons when you take into account adding Aiyuk, plus getting several injured players back this season. 

Whenever the NFL season starts, San Francisco's offense should be a scary sight for opposing defenses.