The 49ers signed edge rusher Dee Ford to fill a void on the defense, but the door is not closed to drafting another piece to get after the quarterback.
General manager John Lynch kept his answer pretty vague when asked if their plan for the draft had changed with the acquisition of the former Chiefs lineman.
“Yeah, we're evaluating everyone,” Lynch said. “Having Dee just makes us a better football team, and the draft's something separate. Yes, those two do interact at some point, but we'll see.
“We're going to go out there and look. At number two you want to have a great football player. That’s what we're looking for and we'll see where it ends up.”
The draft is deep at edge rusher and having Ford on the roster gives the team some flexibility to possibly trade down a few spots. They could subsequently to add to their number of draft selections which currently stands at six.
Ford will fit into Robert Saleh’s defensive scheme easily. He knows he has one job when he’s on the field. There was a little banter between Ford, Coach Shanahan and linebacker Kwon Alexander about his role during their introductory press conference.
“Can I tell them?” Ford asked Shanahan who nodded. “My role is to go that way. Nothing else.”
"All gas, no brakes,” linebacker Alexander added.
"Right, right, right,” Ford said. “Very simple, man. Very simple.”
"And ‘that way,’” Shanahan clarified, “is towards the quarterback.”
The 49ers added defensive line coach Kris Kocurek to the staff earlier in the offseason. His wide-nine approach will utilize Ford the same way as he played in Kansas City.
“We mix up,” Shanahan said. “We did a lot of wide nines last year. Everyone in the league does. A three-four linebacker as he played in his old scheme was a nine-technique.
“So, I see us using a little bit more this year, but we'll see how that plays out. We've got to adjust when things work and when things don't work.”
Lynch added that it doesn’t matter what they choose to call Ford’s position. He was previously listed as an outside linebacker in Kansas City and will likely be called a defensive end in Santa Clara. Lynch explained it’s about the talent and ability Ford had, which will allow the entire defensive line to flourish.
“I know he's a difference maker,” Lynch said. “We’ve been looking for a closer, someone who can close halves, close games, get off the field on third down.
“I think collectively now, I know I saw a big smile from all of our inside rushers because they know what an edge guy can do for the group collectively. We really improved our chances of being effective in those aspects of the game with the addition of Dee.”
Another indicator that the 49ers are not done with adding to their defensive line is the team’s release of Cassius Marsh. His release frees up approximately $5 million in cap space, making room for another defensive lineman.