SANTA CLARA -- A little over a year ago Dee Ford was coming off of a 13-sack season in which he played a whopping 1,022 snaps for the Kansas City Chiefs.
After acquiring him in a trade, the San Francisco 49ers gave Ford a sizable five-year contract worth $85.5 million expecting his production to continue. Ford still managed 6.5 sacks last season, but the edge rusher dealt with knee and hamstring issues that limited him to 226 snaps.
Ford had a “clean-up” procedure on his knee during the offseason and already has shown how much better he is feeling. On the second day of training camp practice, he easily beat George Kittle and Mike McGlinchey around the outside to get a “coverage sack” of Jimmy Garoppolo.
“Last year we had to manage him a little bit, right away,” coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday. “You could tell talking to him, that was our first time really getting to know him, that it was always a little bit in the back of his mind.”
Prior to the start of training camp, Ford predicted he would be a full participant and so far that has been the case. His competition with McGlinchey has been noticed by coaches and teammates alike.
"When he got here you could tell he was different,” Shanahan said. “He was a lot more confident in his knee and you could feel it from him. Watching him in practice these last three days, I can see it.
"He’s got more energy in there, just coming off the ball a lot better than he did at this time last year in camp."
There has been quite a bit of talk about rookie Javon Kinlaw and the competition on the other end of the line between Nick Bosa and Trent Williams, but Ford could be a surprise element, potentially returning to the field in his 2018 form.