Why Dee Ford fits mold of the 49ers' prototypical 'leo' edge rusher

Why Dee Ford fits mold of the 49ers' prototypical 'leo' edge rusher

The 49ers on Wednesday announced the signing of defensive lineman Dee Ford to a five-year extension after acquiring him in a trade from the Kansas City Chiefs for a second-round draft pick in 2020.

Repeat, the 49ers announced the signing of defensive lineman Dee Ford.

During his five seasons in Kansas City, Ford was an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme. All indications are Ford will be the “leo” in the 49ers’ 4-3 defensive alignment.

His job: Get after the quarterback.

Ford did his job exceptionally well last season, recording 13 sacks and forcing seven fumbles. Outside of defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, the 49ers lacked a consistent pass rush. The 49ers, as a team, generated just seven takeaways on the season – the worst mark in the history of the National Football League.

Coach Kyle Shanahan hired Robert Saleh to implement the Seattle-style defense with the 49ers. It’s a 4-3 defense with essentially 3-4 personnel. The leo position is based on the elephant edge-rusher spot that George Seifert used with the 49ers in the 1980s and ‘90s.

Ford fits the height-weight prototype to play the leo position. The 49ers had little consistency at that position in the first two seasons with Saleh as defensive coordinator. Last year, Solomon Thomas mostly started at leo, but he either left the field on passing downs or moved inside to defensive tackle in nickel situations.

[RELATED: Robert Saleh outlines 49ers' defensive blueprint]

Ford is likely being counted upon to be an every-down leo – the pass-rusher the 49ers have lacked since Aldon Smith’s departure.

Here is how Ford height and weight compare to a list of players Saleh cited in 2017 as prototypical edge rushers at the leo position:

Dee Ford 6-foot-2, 252 pounds
Chris Clemons 6-3, 260
Cliff Avril 6-3, 260
Yannick Ngakoue 6-2, 246
Dante Fowler 6-3, 255
Vic Beasley 6-3, 246
Von Miller 6-3, 250
Khalil Mack 6-3, 252

Why Marquise Goodwin, 49ers parting ways this offseason makes sense

Why Marquise Goodwin, 49ers parting ways this offseason makes sense

Marquise Goodwin led the 49ers with a career-high 962 receiving yards in 2017. Since then, he has just 581 yards combined in two seasons.

The 29-year-old wide receiver is under contract for the next two seasons, but a change of scenery this offseason could benefit both him and the 49ers.

Through injuries and off-field adversity, Goodwin has played in just 20 regular-season games the last two years. He clearly has fallen down coach Kyle Shanahan's depth chart, and the 49ers parting ways with the seven-year NFL veteran this offseason would give him more time to chase a dream away from the gridiron.

"The Niners would save a little less than $4 million on the salary cap by parting ways with Goodwin, and it would also allow Goodwin, a world-class long jumper, to follow through on his intention to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo," ESPN's Nick Wagoner recently wrote.

Goodwin was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Dec. 10 after dealing with multiple knee and foot issues. Though his time with the 49ers might come to an end, Goodwin clearly still believes in himself.

The 49ers' receiving corps likely will be led by Deebo Samuel next season after he opened eyes as a rookie. Kendrick Bourne is expected back as a restricted free agent, and Jalen Hurd and Trent Taylor are returning from injuries.

[RELATED: Juice sick of Jimmy G, Shanahan criticism after Super Bowl]

The 49ers likely will target a receiver in the draft, as this year's class is loaded. They also could look at adding a veteran in free agency or bringing back Emmanuel Sanders, whom they acquired in a mid-season trade.

Goodwin is on the outside looking in after hauling in just 12 catches for 186 yards and one touchdown over nine games last season. Sometimes, change is best for both parties.

How 49ers can add more picks in 2020 NFL Draft, according to Peter King

How 49ers can add more picks in 2020 NFL Draft, according to Peter King

The 49ers own the No. 31 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but they are extremely short on selections this year after that. 

San Francisco has just one pick in the top 150. After the first round, the 49ers won't be on the clock again until the fifth round. They own two fifth-round picks, one in the sixth and two in the seventh. 

Between the second and fifth rounds, it's completely barren for general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. But NBC Sports' Peter King looked at how San Francisco could accrue more selections this April

Here's what King wrote in his latest Football Morning in America column. 

To project the Niners’ path, I looked north for a clue. The arch-rival Seahawks, with ever-restless GM John Schneider, provided an excellent example in 2019 of how to turn one first-round pick into a bevy of picks, replenishing what would have been a thin crop.

The trades:

Seattle traded its first-round pick, 21st overall, to Green Bay for the 30th, 114th and 118th picks.
Seattle traded the 30th pick to the Giants for the 37th, 132nd and 142nd picks.
Seattle traded the 37th pick to Carolina for the 47th and 77th picks. At 47, Seattle picked S Marquise Blair.
Seattle traded the 77th and 118th picks to New England for the 64th pick. At 64, Seattle selected WR DK Metcalf.
Seattle traded the 114th pick to Minnesota for the 120th and 204th picks.
Seattle picked WR Gary Jennings Jr. at 120, S Ugo Amadi at 132, LB Ben Burr-Kiven at 142, and RB Travis Homer at 204.

So Seattle turned pick 21 into picks 47, 64, 120, 132, 142 and 204 ... two second-round picks, two fourth-round picks, one fifth-round pick and one sixth-round pick.

The 49ers lost their second-round pick when they acquired defensive end Dee Ford in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs last offseason. They then lost their third- and fourth-round picks when they acquired wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in a midseason trade with the Denver Broncos.

But they added a fifth-round pick in the Sanders trade and a seventh-round pick from the Detroit Lions in a 2018 trade where they shipped away linebacker Eli Harold.

[RELATED: 49ers in good shape at QB entering the 2020 offseason]

The 49ers don't have too many holes on their roster after losing to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. However, depth is always a must, as they learned this season. With Jimmie Ward being an unrestricted free agent, the 49ers could target a safety early in the draft. They also likely will have their eyes on a loaded receiver class and depth on the interior offensive line. 

To add picks, though, they might have to take a lesson from their biggest rivals.