If the 49ers' defense looks to return to its 2019 form, a healthy Dee Ford might provide DeMeco Ryans' front seven with the shot in the arm it needs.
Recovering from both back and neck injuries that have sidelined him for most of his tenure with San Francisco, Ford's future with the team remains up in the air as he attempts to work his way back onto the field.
When Ford was healthy, the 49ers' defensive line was a force to be reckoned with, resulting in a domino effect throughout the rest of the defense. Opposite then-rookie Nick Bosa, the tandem wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks throughout the first half of the 2019 season.
With Ford missing time in the second half of that season, followed by a season-long absence in 2020, the 49ers' defensive line hasn't been the same without the seven-year veteran.
Ford's teammate Fred Warner -- who just signed a massive contract extension with the 49ers -- joined KNBR 680's Papa & Lund and provided an update on Ford's potential return to the field.
“Dee, he’s great,” Warner said. “He looks great, he’s back. I’ve seen him plenty and he’s been working his tail off. I know the type of player that he is and the fact that he’s back healthy is going to give us a huge advantage.
"So I’m really excited to see him back. I know his mind is right, his mentality is exactly what we need for the defense.
Throughout the offseason, there was plenty of doubt as to if Ford would be able to return, and if the 49ers were better off cutting their losses. Eventually, both parties agreed to a contract restructure.
Both coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have always remained hopeful in regards to Ford's return to the field, and have provided positive updates from time to time.
If Ford is able to get back into the lineup, it would provide the 49ers with much-needed depth off the edge, allowing for some creativity scheming up all three of Bosa, Ford and newly signed pass-rusher Samson Ebukam.