Chiefs send Dee Ford to 49ers for second-round pick in 2020

Dee Ford emerged as a star for the Chiefs in 2018.
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers opened the new league year Wednesday by acquiring the defensive playmaker the team was sorely lacking in edge rusher Dee Ford.

The 49ers are sending a 2020 second-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for Ford and are giving him a five-year, $87.5 million contract, according to his agent.

The Chiefs had placed the franchise tag on Ford after he had a career-high 13 sacks last season and led the NFL with seven forced fumbles. But they had questions about how he’d fit in new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense and decided to trade him instead of paying him $15.4 million for this season.

Ford was picked in the first round by Kansas City in 2014 but went through some growing pains as he adapted to life in the NFL and has an injury history that is cause for concern. He had 17 1/2 sacks his first four seasons and was limited to just six games in 2017 because of a back injury.

But he emerged as a star this past season as a key part of a much-maligned defense that had trouble keeping up with an offense that propelled Kansas City to the AFC championship game. But his offside penalty late in that game against New England negated an interception that could have sealed a victory. The Patriots scored a TD on that drive and won the game in overtime.

Ford led all edge rushers with 84 total quarterback pressures last season, according to Pro Football Focus, to go with the sacks and forced fumbles and is exactly the kind of playmaker the 49ers lacked on defense this past season.

San Francisco set an NFL record for futility with just seven takeaways, including a record-low two interceptions, as a lack of an edge rusher played a big role in a 4-12 season.

“You have to have a guy who can close out games, close out halves,” general manager John Lynch said at the combine when talking about the need for better pass rushers. “When you have them, they can be a difference-maker.”

The 49ers haven’t had an edge rusher reach double-digits in sacks since Aldon Smith had 19 1/2 in 2012 and have the fifth-fewest overall sacks in the NFL the past six seasons. DeForest Buckner led the team with 12 sacks this past season, mostly from an interior spot.