How new edge rusher Dee Ford will fit into 49ers' defensive scheme

How new edge rusher Dee Ford will fit into 49ers' defensive scheme

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.”

[RELATED: Why Ford fits mold of prototypical 'leo' edge rusher]

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.

Joe Staley not worried about 49ers future despite no new contract


Joe Staley not worried about 49ers future despite no new contract

Joe Staley’s undetermined future with the 49ers could make the team take a closer look at a tackle early in this year’s draft, but the veteran remains unfazed about his future after 2019. 

The 49ers selected Mike McGlinchey with the No. 9 overall pick of the 2018 draft as the heir apparent for Staley’s left tackle position. Staley is under contract through 2019, but there still haven't been talks about his future with the club.

“We haven’t had any discussions,” Staley said. “I made it very clear, to I think everybody, that I want to play as long as I can. I still love the game and feel like I can play at a high level. Still feel like I’m valued on the football team.” 

Staley is not worried that things have not been ironed out yet. He remains steadfast that his desire is to remain in Santa Clara following his 13th season. 

“I know it’s my last year under contract but I’m not worried about that,” Staley said. “I’m just going to go out there and do everything I can to help us win games this year.” 

Staley is moving forward with a "business as usual" mentality. He is one of the veterans who continually shows up for the offseason program, even though it is voluntary. He explained why, at 34 years old, he prefers to participate in organized team activities (OTAs) instead of doing his own program elsewhere. 

“I just love being around everybody and I don’t know, I’d much rather be here than somewhere else,” Staley said. “I think for me too, it’s like I need the structure, I’m used to the structure.

“It works well for me. Not to say that I can’t manage my time away from here when I’m not. I do when I’m down in San Diego, but I just enjoy being around the guys too. It was never a thought for me to be anywhere else.”  

[RELATED: Staley gave 49ers scouting report on Dee Ford before trade]

Staley, a six-time Pro Bowler, has started in all 174 games that he has played with the team. The remaining tackles on the team are McGlinchey, Shon Coleman, Christian DiLauro and Daniel Brunskill

NFL draft: Quinnen Williams ranked higher than Nick Bosa by Chris Simms

NFL draft: Quinnen Williams ranked higher than Nick Bosa by Chris Simms

The 49ers likely will have their choice of a top defensive prospect with the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. 

Should the Cardinals select quarterback Kyler Murray, defensive linemen Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams and Josh Allen will fall in the 49ers' lap. All three are top prospects in their own right, but NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms has one atop this trio. 

"I would say Quinnen Williams is probably the best one (player in the draft)," Simms said recently on Pro Football Talk Live. 

The 49ers will have an interesting decision to make if both Bosa and Williams are there for the taking. While Bosa is the consensus pick by many, he believes there's certainly an argument for Williams.

"I think there's a lot of things that play into this, certainly. First of all, Quinnen Williams is awesome," Simms said. "I think Nick Bosa is just slightly less of them." 

Roster construction could be a big factor in the 49ers' decision, however. Their defensive line is full of players they selected high in the draft but fit more as an interior rusher like Williams instead of an on the edge like Bosa. The 49ers, in theory, could pair Bosa and Dee Ford as a dominant pass rush on the outside.

[RELATED: The Choice -- Nick Bosa intuitively drawn to sport that shaped his life]

"Another thing you have to take into account is the San Francisco 49ers have drafted defensive tackles in three out of the last five drafts," Simms said. "They probably look at that and go, 'We're full at that position.' ... It's very close between Bosa and Quinnen Williams."

Decisions will be made and it will only get trickier between now and the start of the draft on Thursday.