When the new league year begins Wednesday, the 49ers intend to send a 2020 second-round draft choice to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for edge rusher Dee Ford. The Chiefs then tied the score at 31-31 with a field goal in the final seconds of regulation, but we all know how that one ultimately worked out.
Steve Spagnuolo, Kansas City's new defensive coordinator, will use the 4-3 scheme that is predicated on size and strength up front, and Ford - who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 243 pounds - isn't necessarily a physical prototype for an edge rushing position in Spagnuolo's system. He has spent his entire National Football League career in a 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker and a primary reason Kansas City reportedly wanted to trade him was because it was unsure how he'd fit in new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's 4-3 scheme, particularly against the run.
ESPN's Josina Anderson reports that the deal is for five years, $87.5 million. Ford was rated as the top edge rusher by Pro Football Focus a year ago, and you don't let that kind of talent go voluntarily. He started all 16 games for the first time in his career and had a career-high 13 sacks. He also pointed out the need for more powerful outside rushers to maximize new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek's wide-9 concepts.
The team also recently released linebacker Justin Houston, freeing up $21.1 million in their salary cap.
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Ford, who was selected out of Auburn with the 23rd overall pick in 2014, is coming off his best season. He missed 10 games the next season due to a back injury.
For the 49ers, adding a premium edge rusher - or two - has always been at the top of their offseason shopping list.
The 49ers have been relatively quiet in free agency, but they're looking to make noise in the trade market. They're going to be playing with a quick trigger and getting after it.