Dee Ford satisfied with 49ers' win, but expects dominance from D-line

Dee Ford satisfied with 49ers' win, but expects dominance from D-line

BOARDMAN, Ohio – The 49ers diagnosed the problem, and started with Dee Ford to remedy the biggest issue that plagued the team last season.

The 49ers generated just seven takeaways, including two interceptions, while compiling a lowly 4-12 record in 2018.

In the 49ers’ season-opening win on Sunday at Tampa Bay, they did not suit up any newcomers in the defensive backfield. But the face of the outside pass rush changed dramatically with the additions of Ford, acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs for a second-round draft pick in 2020, and rookie Nick Bosa, the No. 2 overall pick.

“I was really happy how they got in the backfield, and not just those two but it seemed like the whole D-line,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said following the 49ers’ 31-17 victory over the Buccaneers, a game that featured four takeaways, including three interceptions.

Ford, meanwhile, was merely satisfied – for now.

“We got a lot of things, me included – me, especially – to get better at,” said Ford, 28, who recorded a career-best 13 sacks last season in Kansas City. “But we’ll take the result.”

Ford played 41 of the 49ers’ 70 defensive snaps. There were 30 plays in which he rushed the passer, and he had one sack (he stripped Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston of the ball), one hit and one hurry, according to Pro Football Focus. Bosa had a solid NFL debut with six total pressures in 27 pass-rush opportunities.

“With our potential, I always expect to take over a game,” Ford said. “We made key plays, but there’s a difference between making plays and taking over a game. We hit a couple of spurts where we just need to get home. I just need to be better. It’s Game 1, and we need to get better.”

One of the key plays occurred late in the game when Ford, Bosa and Arik Armstead each applied pressure from different directions on Winston, who attempted to dump of a screen pass to a running back who got tied up in traffic. The pass went directly to 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, who intercepted the pass and returned it 25 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.

“That’s the recipe,” Ford said. “That’s what we want more of. We understand as a D-lineman, there’s more in the tank. There’s more in the tank.”

[RELATED: Nick Bosa thrilled to be healthy, register first sack in 49ers' debut]

Ford admitted to feeling the effects of missing most of training camp with knee tendinitis. He returned to practice two weeks ago after undergoing a platelet-rich plasma injection early in camp. Ford sat out each of the 49ers’ four games of the preseason.

“There was a lot of rust,” Ford said. “Not having preseason, trying to get healthy and all that, I just had to knock some stuff off. I expect a whole lot more from myself, but I’ll take it and we’ll move forward.

“I can be a lot better. I felt a little sluggish out of my stance. But that’s things you work out. Day by day, week by week, we’re going to get better. That’s why we love having 16 games a year, plus postseason.”

49ers practice report: George Kittle expected to play vs. Washington

49ers practice report: George Kittle expected to play vs. Washington

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers tight end George Kittle showed up on the injury report with a groin strain last Friday. Two days later, he looked completely healthy going up against the Los Angeles Rams.

Kittle was held out of practice on Wednesday, but he returned to limited work during the 49ers’ padded work on Thursday at their team facility. Kittle downplayed the team’s report of his physical condition and is expected to play Sunday against Washington.

Kittle caught eight passes for 103 yards in the 49ers’ 20-7 victory over the Rams on Sunday.

However, the 49ers had seven players who did not participate in Thursday's practice. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk, tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon remain out of action.

[RELATED: McGlinchey had tough time watching 49ers' win from home]

Running back Raheem Mostert (knee), wide receiver Deebo Samuel (groin) and nose tackle D.J. Jones (hamstring) sustained injuries in the 49ers’ win over the Rams that have kept them from practicing thus far this week.

49ers practice report

Did not practice
DT D.J. Jones (hamstring)
FB Kyle Juszczyk (knee)
T Mike McGlinchey (knee)
RB Raheem Mostert (knee)
WR Deebo Samuel (groin)
T Joe Staley (fibula)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (foot)

DE Dee Ford (quadricep)
TE George Kittle (groin)
CB K'Waun Williams (hand)

Washington practice report

Did not practice
S Deshazor Everett (ankle)
LB Josh Harvey-Clemons (hamstring)
G Wes Martin (chest)  
CB Josh Norman (thigh, hand)
RB Chris Thompson (toe)

TE Vernon Davis (concussion)

Full participation
QB Case Keenum (right shoulder, foot)
RB Adrian Peterson (quadricep)

Arik Armstead not thinking about contract amid breakout year for 49ers

Arik Armstead not thinking about contract amid breakout year for 49ers

SANTA CLARA — Not too long ago, 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead had trouble staying on the field and was labeled as someone who was not living up to first-round expectations. 

Armstead only was able to suit up for 14 games from 2016-2017, landing on injured reserve both seasons. But fast-forward to Week 7 of 2019, and Armstead is making a case for huge contract after he closes out his fifth season with San Francisco.

Armstead is set to have a career-best season, as he's already racked up 2.5 sacks, four quarterback hits, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and 20 total tackles, four of which were for a loss. The 49ers defense has been bolstered by several offseason additions, including edge rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, and Armstead has been reaping the rewards. 

“It’s been great,” Armstead told NBC Sports Bay Area. “As a whole defense, they’ve had a big impact. It’s fun playing with great players. Those guys are extremely talented and they bring a whole different element to the defense.” 

With the edges sealed up, Armstead has been able to enjoy putting his hand in the dirt next to long-time teammate DeForest Buckner. The two have been playing together since their time at the University of Oregon. Both former Ducks stand 6-foot-7, and limit a quarterback's downfield vision tremendously. 

“Super fun, like it’s always been going out there with a great friend,” Armstead said. “We’ve been going to battle together for a long time. Just trying to go out there and dominate and have an impact on our team like we have had over the years.” 

Armstead won’t admit thinking about if his NFL future includes playing with the 49ers beyond this year. He has been focused on each opponent as they come, while enjoying the team’s victories -- at least just a little bit. 

“I’m just taking it week by week,” Armstead said. “Contract stuff, it’s out of my control. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen with that. All I can focus on is preparing for the game and try to go out there and dominate and win my matchups and show what I can do.”

[RELATED: How 49ers will attack trade deadline at every position]

Armstead has used his production on the field not only to increase his own future contract value, but also to fund equal opportunities in education for underserved youth in his home town of Sacramento. He is donating $1,000 dollars for every sack and $250 for every tackle he makes this season to his foundation. He previously raised $100,000 at his charity gala to fund programs. 

One of the events that Armstead created with his foundation was a trip for 30 students to spend the entire day at 49ers headquarters. They participated in a career panel with 49ers employees as well as getting a tour of the facility.

For more information on donating to Armstead’s foundation, visit www.arikarmstead91.com.