The San Francisco 49ers are hopeful that one of their top pass rushers will be back on the field and healthy by the start of training camp in late July.
Dee Ford has not played a game for the Niners since Week 1 of last season, suffering from injuries to both his back and neck.
The timeline of his return to the active roster has been unclear since last year. However, Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Wednesday, June 9, that he had hope the former Pro-Bowl pass rusher would be ready to contribute by the start of the regular season.
“I’m just keeping my fingers crossed,” Shanahan said. “I’m hoping he can come ready to go in training camp and, hopefully, he can help us out this year.”
Ford Was Set to Appear at Now-Canceled Offseason Workouts
Ford played in only 46 snaps for San Francisco last season before he was sidelined by injuries.
The team was optimistic he might return at some point during one of the NFL’s most injury-riddled seasons in recent memory, but that was not to be. However, Ford had already spent much of the offseason at the team’s facilities in Santa Clara rehabbing.
“He’s been here since the beginning of February doing everything,” Shanahan said. “(Ford) had about three and a half months here and a week before everyone came back, he went back to Kansas City with his back specialist.”
“He made a lot of progress in the months that he was rehabbing here,” the coach continued.
Ford left before offseason activities began, but was scheduled to return to California for a mandatory three-day minicamp over the weekend, though he remained unlikely to take the practice field.
However, following injuries to three key players during offseason workouts, the Niners chose instead to scrap practices on Tuesday and Thursday of this week, as well as cancel the weekend minicamp.
“He was going to come out here next week, but if he comes, there’s not going to be too many people here left again,” Shanahan explained. “We knew we weren’t going to put him through OTAs because we don’t want his back to act up.”
Niners Pass Rush Could Again Prove Elite With Return of Ford, Bosa
Ford was just one member of the 49ers’ pass rush attack that went down early last season. Fellow edge rusher Nick Bosa suffered an ACL tear in Week 2 against the New York Jets.
Bosa is expected to be back healthy for Week 1 of the new season. If Ford is able to join him, the Niners’ defensive line could return to the kind of formidable unit it was in 2019, when San Francisco made its way to the Super Bowl.
Ford posted double-digit sack totals in two of his previous three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs before joining the Niners in 2019. That year, he logged 6.5 sacks in just 11 games played for San Francisco, as that campaign was also hampered by injury.
Ford is under contract with the team for the next two seasons.