The Playoffs – With injuries, DE Dee Ford is released by the 49ers

The Playoffs – With injuries, DE Dee Ford is released by the 49ers

After three injury-plagued seasons, Dee Ford’s defense in San Francisco is officially done. The 49ers released Ford, Wednesday, in a move that had been expected since Ford’s 2021 season ended in December, with him on injured reserve because of ongoing back problems.

San Francisco general manager John Lynch said Tuesday after indicating at the NFL owners meetings in March that Ford had played his last few snaps with the team.

“I don’t see much hope that he will be a positive thing for us on the field,” Lynch said at the time. “We’re trying to be as patient as we can, and it’s not Dee’s fault, she just went through a bad back condition where she couldn’t get healthy. He’s adjusting, but I don’t see him being part of our team.”

With Ford dealing with a recurring issue, the Niners were patient before releasing him in order to distribute the salary payments remaining on his contract. Because Wednesday’s move comes after June 1, the Niners will pay more than the $11.5 million remaining on their contract over the next two years. This will save the 49ers $1.12 million over the 2022 salary cap.

For Niners players, Ford’s departure is a disappointing conclusion to a once-promising union between player and team. Ford arrived in San Francisco in a 2019 trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a second-round pick. The 49ers immediately signed Ford to a five-year, $85 million contract with the expectation of seeing Ford and Nick Bosa destroy opposing quarterbacks for years to come.

There were glimpses of this in 2019, when Ford had 6.5 sacks in 11 games and San Francisco reached Super Bowl LIV. But Ford suffered multiple injuries that season and the back problems that had plagued him since his time at Auburn did not go away.

In total, Ford played in just 18 regular season games and 9.5 sacks in three seasons in San Francisco. He played in six games in 2022 with three sacks before being placed on injured reserve.

The 49ers used their first pick in the 2022 NFL draft (#61 overall) on defensive end Drake Jackson, with the goal of making Jackson Ford’s replacement.

“Jackson takes himself out of the picture in terms of… his talent and his ability to corner and redirect, all things that we look for and desire in a defensive line,” Lynch said in April. “We think its quality is just ahead.”

Ford, 31, was selected to the Pro Bowl after the 2018 season with the Chiefs. He has 40 sacks, 12 forced fumbles and 159 tackles in eight NFL seasons.

(Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)