Dee Ford's Return Provides Spark for 49ers' Pass Rush
Jose Luis Sanchez III
The vast majority of players on the San Francisco 49ers entered Saturday's divisional playoff game without any playoff experience. That lack of experience was believed to be a downside for the 49ers in their ability to defeat the battled hardened Minnesota Vikings.
However, the 49ers have practically been playing playoff type games over the last month. It was thanks to those games that helped lead the 49ers to victory, but it wasn't the sole reason. Applying an immense amount of pressure on Vikings' quarterback Kirk Cousins was a key factor to the victory.
On almost every drop back, Cousins was met with a defensive lineman of the 49ers. He met them six times in the game for six official sacks. Racking up sacks was scarce for the 49ers in December. They averaged less than a sack a game, which forced the offense to carry the load. The reason for the sudden surge out of their pass rush is due to the return of Dee Ford.
Ford made his way back to the field for the first time since week 14 against the New Orleans Saints. He had been plagued with a hamstring injury dating as far back as week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals. Without him, the pass rush ceased to produce as much.
Now that he is back, it is clear that Ford's return provided a spark for the 49ers' pass rush.
"It was very frustrating for me not being able to help my team." Said Ford. "But I can only control what I can control. But what I can control is when I do come back it's to make a difference."
The difference he makes when he is out there is riveting. And from an opposition's perspective, stressful. Having to deal with the core three of Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Nick Bosa was a challenge in it of itself. Once Ford gets thrown into that mix, then it is nothing but chaos.
“Yeah, the whole vibe, the whole energy, it's just different." Said defensive end Nick Bosa "Has other teams just trying to find answers. But, yeah, I mean, just having Dee is a huge boost for the D-Line.”
This pass rush is practically unstoppable. An offense can only account for so much, except the 49ers have more than "so much".
With the win over the Vikings, the 49ers will play host and advance to the NFC championship game where the Green Bay Packers await them. That is a matchup that Ford was not a part of the first time, yet the 49ers were able to sack Aaron Rodgers five times. Just imagine the numbers now that Ford is back in the lineup.
Especially since Ford says he expects him and the team to "take it another level further" going into Sunday.