Kwon Alexander's value to 49ers not measured in stat sheet vs. Vikings

Kwon Alexander's value to 49ers not measured in stat sheet vs. Vikings

SANTA CLARA — Kwon Alexander didn't show up on the stat sheet in the 49ers’ 27-10 win over the Vikings, but the linebacker's presence was felt by everyone on the field Saturday.

The NFC Divisional Playoff represented Alexander’s first game action since Week 10, during which he tore his pectoral muscle and eventually was placed on injured reserve. He remained very close with the team, though, adding energy on the sideline during games, but he contributions on the field were missed.

“There’s so much more swag and confidence when he’s out there,” 49ers linebacker Fred Warner said. “He’s great. I love being out there with him. He’s a leader. There’s a lot more to it than him just being a good ballplayer out there. His value is huge for the team.”

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan noted that even when he’s not racking up defensive statistics, Alexander affects the play on the field.

“Having Kwon out there, the times I'm looking up watching him, the way he flew around, made some plays on the screens,” Shanahan said. “Even when he flew and missed the guy on the screen, he makes the back have to come to a complete stop and cut back the other way, then our pass rushers can get there.”

Alexander's return coincided with Dee Ford and Jaquiski Tartt also being back in the lineup. The defense was re-energized, and held Vikings running back Dalvin Cook to nine carries for a season-low 18 yards and six receptions for 8 yards.

The Vikings' offense had just seven first downs and 147 total yards, 21 of which were on the ground.

Alexander wasn’t surprised at all that the 49ers shut down Cook, who had five 100-yards games this season and posted 1,135 yards over 14 games. Alexander believes the 49ers' defense can even get better.

“We were able to be us,” Alexander said. “Once we do that, we can go out there and have fun, and when we play together as a team, it’s hard to beat us. That is all we have to do and we are going to go far.

“We were just being legendary, being ourselves. We work hard. We worked hard this week. Everybody came to work ready, with a lot of excitement, a lot of energy, and it showed out there on the field. That is how we did that.”

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Most of all, Alexander was overjoyed to be in front of the fans at Levi's Stadium.

“The Faithful is crazy,” he said. “The fans, I love them. They were out there. They were supporting us. We had to go out there and do our job for them, and we got the job done.

“Man, it felt amazing. I’m so happy.”

Dee Ford welcomed trade to 49ers, thought time with Chiefs had passed


Dee Ford welcomed trade to 49ers, thought time with Chiefs had passed

MIAMI, Fla. – Dee Ford will always look back fondly on his time with the Kansas City Chiefs. The dynamic edge rusher wasn’t bothered after they traded him to the 49ers last offseason.

He wasn’t bitter. He wasn’t pissed. It was time for his next act.

The Chiefs weren’t going to pay up after a Pro Bowl season where he had 13 sacks, an understood fact that made the March 13 transaction a true [and rare] mutual parting of ways.

Ford wanted to be a 49er. The 49ers wanted a lightning-quick presence off the edge and was willing to pay a premium.

It was time for a change.

“I felt like my chapter had been written in Kansas City,” Ford said. “I saw a lot of opportunity on the defensive line, with [Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner] – he was coming off his best year -- and [Solomon Thomas]. I remembered a lot about the time we played San Francisco in Kansas City in 2018 and I knew they lost a quarterback but still were in a lot of games. And, come on. Who doesn’t want to play in the Bay? It wasn’t a hard decision. My gut was just saying it was right.

Ask Ford’s gut for lottery numbers. Ford found paradise in Santa Clara, with an ideal role as a roving pass rusher making some serious cash. It wasn’t the five-year, $88 million deal with $33 million guaranteed that really sold him on the 49ers. The team vibe took care of that.

“I’m being honest when I say this: It just felt like home,” Ford said. “I had my daughter in April, so I showed up late to the offseason program. They were already training and they just threw me right in the mix. I was quickly just laughing and joking and having a good time. We shared knowledge of fundamentals, what we like to do and how we like to rush. I was just one of the guys. The rest is history.”

Ford has fit in well in his first 49ers season. He had 6.5 sacks in 2019 with another in the playoffs despite missing five games with a hamstring injury.

And now a perfect storm has set Ford’s new team and his old one on a collision course. The Chiefs and 49ers will square off Sunday in Super Bowl LIV, making Ford a central figure in the week leading up to the biggest game of his life.

Ford is excited about it, even though he’d rather everyone stopping bringing up a certain offsides penalty in last year’s AFC championship game. He built quality relationships during his time in Kansas City that he still maintains, even if football’s generally off the table.

He bonded quickly with his new teammates and appreciates the unselfish philosophy present along a loaded 49ers defensive front.

“We don’t have guys trying to get 20 sacks a year even though we have guys with the talent to do that,” Ford said. “We all play together. There were games where we knew sacks weren’t the most important thing. It was about playing assignment sound football. Unselfishness. That’s the secret, in my opinion.”

The Chiefs aren’t worried about him spoiling their game plan or using his experience in K.C. against them. They are, however, concerned about Ford the pass rusher.

“Dee’s a good player,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said. “We drafted him in the first round and he was very productive for us. He has done a nice job for them, not that they needed a lot of help along their defensive line. He has been a nice addition. There are not a lot of pass rushers better than Dee in the National Football League.”

Why 49ers QB Steve Young got sick in limo following Super Bowl XXIX

Why 49ers QB Steve Young got sick in limo following Super Bowl XXIX

MIAMI, Fla. -- The last time the 49ers played a Super Bowl in Miami, their quarterback tossed six touchdown passes.

Then, he tossed his cookies on the limo ride back from the stadium.

The 49ers last won a Super Bowl 25 years ago. Steve Young threw for six touchdown passes in the 49’ers 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX.

Young completed 24 of 36 pass attempts for 325 yards in the rout. He was named the Super Bowl MVP with his record day for touchdown passes, and he proclaimed he got the monkey off his back after years of being compared to Joe Montana.

Agent Leigh Steinberg, who represented Young, just as vividly remembers what happened after the game.

“I kept him doing interviews for so long, we’re in a limo on the way back and he said, ‘I’m feeling sick.’ I said, ‘You are?’ And he said, ‘No, really sick.’ And all of a sudden he threw up in the limo,” Steinberg said on Wednesday from Radio Row.

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While everyone else was back at the team hotel celebrating the 49ers’ fifth Super Bowl title, Young was in no shape to party due to dehydration.

“We go back to the hotel and the entire place is filled with jubilant 49ers fans and players, and Steve is up in his room on an IV,” Steinberg said.


Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 3 p.m. Saturday).

Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.