© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The 49ers are already making calls to address their woeful pass rush.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the 49ers and Green Bay Packers have expressed interest in Kansas City Chiefs edge rusher Dee Ford.
The Chiefs have applied the franchise tag to Ford, but they are open to trading him for the right price. They are reportedly looking for a second-round pick in exchange for the 27-year-old. In addition to selecting No. 2 overall, the 49ers have the No. 36 overall pick in April’s draft.
After an inconsistent four-year stretch to start his career, Ford amassed a career-high 13 sacks in 2018, tied for eighth-most in the NFL. He led the league with seven forced fumbles in his first Pro Bowl campaign.
The 49ers recorded 13 forced fumbles in the same season in which they set a record low with seven turnovers created. Their leading edge rusher was Cassius Marsh, who recorded 5.5 sacks. The 49ers tallied just 14 total sacks from their edge rushers in 2018.
Their pass-rush woes have resurfaced throughout the past two seasons. Last year, the only edge rusher the 49ers either drafted or signed in free agency was Jeremiah Attaochu, who was ultimately cut before the season started.
All signs point to the 49ers bolstering their edge rush this offseason. Last month, they hired longtime defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, who plans to install wide-nine concepts that will emphasize pass-rushing. In a 2019 draft class filled with NFL-ready edge rushers, the 49ers would potentially have their choice of Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, Kentucky’s Josh Allen, or Florida State’s Brian Burns with the No. 2 overall pick. Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have both said this draft class is as stacked with defensive linemen as any in recent memory.
The upcoming free agent class is replete with proven edge rushers, which potentially includes Ford. The Chiefs are switching defenses from a 3-4, in which Ford played outside linebacker, to a 4-3, raising questions as to whether Ford can play with his hand in the dirt on a consistent basis. The 49ers deploy a 4-3 scheme that would likely feature Ford as the LEO, or weakside edge rusher. He played in a 4-3 during his college career at Auburn.
The Chiefs also plan to release veteran pass rusher Justin Houston. The 30-year-old had nine sacks in 2018.