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Dee Ford’s injury guarantee may force 49ers to keep him

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Richard Sherman is hoping to find a contender he can stick with for the next two years, and Mike Florio and Myles Simmons think he could be in for a rough free agency.

San Francisco pass rusher Dee Ford has missed more games than he has played and has primarily been a backup since the 49ers signed him to a five year, $85.5 million contract in 2019. Ordinarily, that would mean he’d get cut.

But Ford’s contract makes that difficult.

The 49ers can’t cut Ford until he can pass a physical, and General Manager John Lynch has acknowledged that Ford may not be healthy for the start of the 2021 season. As noted by Matt Maiocco of NBCSportsBayArea.com, Ford has an injury guarantee that means $11.6 million of his base salary becomes fully guaranteed if he’s still on the 49ers’ roster on April 1.

That may mean the 49ers are stuck with Ford under his current contract, even if they’d rather move on from a player who has struggled to stay healthy and has fallen short of expectations even when he was healthy. Ford’s 2021 cap hit of more than $20 million may have to remain on the 49ers’ cap, whether the team likes it or not.