Von Miller praises 49ers' Dee Ford's 'deadly' pass rushing ability

Von Miller praises 49ers' Dee Ford's 'deadly' pass rushing ability

Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller famously hosts a Pass Rush Summit every summer, bringing together many of the NFL’s top pass-rushers and a handful of elite college players to talk shop and share their tricks of the trade.

Two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, as well as All-Pros like Calais Campbell and Melvin Ingram made an appearance at last year’s event. The 49ers’ dominant front seven also has been represented in the past, as Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, and Dee Ford all have participated.

“Dee Ford has a great skill set,” Miller told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Scott Bair during Radio Row at Super Bowl LIV. “He’s good off on the ball on everything, he has a cross chop, spin move, he’s just deadly.”

Only able to play in 11 games this season, Ford still managed to accumulate 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in his first season with the Niners.

[RELATED: 49ers' Lynch, Young don't make Hall of Fame; Bruce selected]

Armstead had a breakout season in 2019, picking up 10 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in what potentially could be his final season with the 49ers.

Ford and the rest of the vaunted San Francisco pass rush could be the difference in Sunday’s matchup, as 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs present the toughest challenge of the season.

Why Deion Sanders is high on 49ers' offense heading into Super Bowl 54

Why Deion Sanders is high on 49ers' offense heading into Super Bowl 54

Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders knows a thing or two about offense. 

The legendary cornerback shut down opposing wide receivers in a 14-year career, but Sanders' playmaking ability allowed him to occasionally moonlight as a two-way player. Each of the five NFL teams he played for targeted him for at least one pass, and Sanders caught 36 passes for 475 yards and a touchdown with the Dallas Cowboys in 1996.

Last season's NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes will lead the Kansas City Chiefs' quick-strike passing attack against the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, but Sanders is a big fan of his former team's passing offense. 

"First of all, [tight end George Kittle's] just unbelievable," Sanders told reporters from Super Bowl Radio Row in Miami on Friday. "[Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders], all those guys, man. They have a really good receiving corps, and they've got a quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo) that you're not talking about that can spin it as well. Fortunately, they got here a couple weeks ago on the running game. They don't care how they win, they just want the results of it. But do not underestimate San Francisco's passing attack because they can get the job done as well."

Garoppolo threw the ball just eight times in the 49ers' aforementioned NFC Championship Game win over the Green Bay Packers. The NFL traffics in What Have You Done For Me Lately, and San Francisco's, um, limited passing game against Green Bay stood in stark contrast to Mahomes' 294-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game. 

But from Weeks 9 through 17 of the regular season, Garoppolo ranked no worse than fifth in completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdowns and passer rating among qualifying. Mahomes, returning from injury, made two fewer starts during that time. Still, the Kansas City signal-caller ranked behind Garoppolo in each of those categories during said stretch. 

"He's here (in Super Bowl LIV)," Sanders told reporters. "He's one of the best quarterbacks in the game. I think winning-percentage wise, he's ... at the top of the game, and winning in the games that he's performed in in his career. I love everything he brings to the table, and I love what they've placed around him to insulate him as well."

[RELATED: Why 49ers' Williams is key to stopping Chiefs' speedsters]

Not many passing offenses can keep up with the Chiefs, but Sanders seems to believe the 49ers are plenty capable with Garoppolo at the helm.  

You can watch the full interview in the player above. 

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” at 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.

49ers' Nick Bosa having 'unheard of' rookie year, says Shawne Merriman

49ers' Nick Bosa having 'unheard of' rookie year, says Shawne Merriman

Shawne Merriman knows what to look for in a Defensive Rookie of the Year, having won the award himself after entering the NFL as a first-round draft pick in 2005. He amassed 45.5 sacks over an eight-year career with the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills, over which he frequently lived up to his "Lights Out" nickname. Merriman retired following the 2012 NFL season, but was at the 2019 NFL Draft to announce the Chargers' second-round pick.

That's when he got acquainted with the newest Pepsi NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year -- 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa.

"You can always tell within the first couple minutes of talking to a young guy what his mindset is and how he wants to approach the game, Merriman told NBC Sports Bay Area's Scott Bair on Radio Row in Miami on Thursday. "And when they ask the right questions, you know these guys are going to be great. Obviously, [Bosa] was coming in as a top draft pick, but he had questions like he was a guy just trying to come in and make the league."

Just based on that initial interaction, Merriman had high expectations for the No. 2 overall pick, but Bosa managed to surpass them.

"I knew he was going to be Defensive Rookie of the Year," Merriman said. "I knew he was going to be explosive -- it's in his blood, it's in his genes to be explosive and a good player. But what he's doing right now as a rookie, to me, it's unheard of. He's coming in, they're ready to go, and he's not playing like a rookie at all. And when his brother Joey said that he is better than him, I thought that he was just joking around, because Joey is an incredible player. But I think he was really honest about that."

Bosa might be the most notable name on the 49ers' defensive line, which has arguably been the best unit of its kind throughout the entire league this year. Merriman is impressed not only with the depth on San Francisco's defensive line, but the relentlessness of the entire defense in general.

"They have a great balance of guys across the board," Merriman explained. "On both sides of the ball, really. You look at their front seven, you've got guys that are swarming to the ball every single tackle. You see guys running from sideline to sideline. You never, ever see on the defensive side of the ball guys just tackling someone 1-on-1. You never do, because these guys all finish at the football."

Over the regular season and playoffs combined, Bosa has totaled 12 sacks, while Arik Armstead and Dee Ford have tallied 12 and 7.5, respectively. While those three have generated the most quarterback pressures, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner is the straw that stirs the drink. Merriman agreed as much and compared Buckner to his former Chargers teammate Jamal Williams.

"Jamal was one of these guys that ... he didn't get a lot of credit," Merriman said. "But you know what? I got the sacks because of Jamal Williams, and if it wasn't for him, I don't know if I would be going to back-to-back Pro Bowls. And Buckner is the same way. When you turn on that film as an opponent and you watch the film, you know exactly what he can do." 

[RELATED: Why 49ers might have trouble re-signing Ward, Armstead]

Merriman believes Buckner will have a particularly critical role in Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs, as his pressure up the middle will make it more difficult for Patrick Mahomes to hold the ball and take shots downfield. You can watch the full interview with Merriman at the top of this article.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (9:30 p.m. 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.