Fri May 29 4:47pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020 file photo, San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (55) gestures next to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the first half of the NFL NFC Championship football game in Santa Clara, Calif. San Francisco edge rusher Dee Ford had an "extensive cleanup" operation for tendinitis in his left knee that limited his effectiveness in his first season with the 49ers. Ford said Friday, May 29, 2020 that Dr. James Andrews performed the operation a few weeks after San Francisco lost the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)
San Francisco edge rusher Dee Ford had an “extensive cleanup” operation for the tendinitis in his left knee that limited his effectiveness in his first season with the 49ers.
Ford said Friday that Dr. James Andrews performed the operation a few weeks after San Francisco lost the Super Bowl and that he feels in much better condition heading into his second year with the Niners after playing with what he described as a “blown tire” for most of last season.
“I’m confident moving forward,” Ford said. “I feel great right now. I’m able to actually explode off of this knee. Thinking back on it, I can’t believe I played a whole season on it. We knew at the end of the day, what we had to do, had to be surgical. But I didn’t want to miss the season. We had too much going on. I didn’t want to miss that. It’s in the bag now. I’m confident in that.”
Ford was a key acquisition last season for the Niners, who traded a second-round pick to Kansas City for the edge rusher and then gave him a five-year, $85 million contract.
Ford missed most of his first training camp with the Niners after having an injection in the knee. He returned to play 40 snaps in the opener but hurt the knee again in Week 2 at Cincinnati and didn’t play more than 26 snaps again in a game until the postseason.
He played only four snaps the final six games of the regular season because of a hamstring injury.
That was a far cry from the previous season when Ford averaged nearly 63 defensive snaps a game for the Chiefs and had the second most of any front-seven player in the regular and postseason combined.
Even after the surgery, the 29-year-old Ford knows he will still likely have to deal with the knee problems for the future.
“Anytime you’re dealing with a chronic issue, you’re always on the clock,” he said. “I know exactly what I felt like last year. Doing the things that I’m doing now is like night and day. We’ll just play it by ear once everything gets going. We haven’t really had an offseason. No one’s really been in competition. It’s just hard to measure exactly where we’re at. We’re just going to keep taking it one day at a time and just keep getting this thing as strong as I could possibly get it so we can sack some quarterbacks.”
Ford was able to do that last year when he was on the field. Despite being on the field for only 151 pass rush snaps, Ford still recorded 6 1/2 sacks for the highest rate in the league among players with at least 100 rushes.
Ford also played a key role in transforming San Francisco’s defense by freeing up rookie Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead for pressure opportunities. The Niners finished tied for fifth in the league with 48 sacks and sixth with 27 takeaways a year after having only 37 sacks and generating a record-low seven takeaways.
San Francisco’s pressure rate jumps from 22.7% when Ford isn’t on the field to 34.2% when he is playing, according to NFL NextGen stats, a sign of his importance.
But that production wasn’t enough to help Ford be part of a championship team despite coming agonizingly close two years in a row. His offsides penalty in the AFC championship game following the 2018 season helped fuel New England’s comeback win that eliminated the Chiefs.
He then was part of a San Francisco team that had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl against Kansas City before falling apart late in a 31-20 loss.
“I said it before, even before I got to San Francisco, that if I was to dwell on things that had happened in the past, I wouldn’t be any good in the future in helping my team get back,” Ford said. “It’s the same thing this year. We can’t dwell on the loss. You got to use that to push forward and be even better, which we are going to be. We’ll be even better next year. Because now we’re going to have to face another narrative of just having that hiccup season after the Super Bowl. The fight continues.”
July 5th: Tightend Preview
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert requested a trade on Wednesday, per his agent, Brett Tessler. Mostert and his representation simply want to bring him in line with the highest-paid running backs on the team. Tevin Coleman will make $4.55 million in 2020. Mostert has two years left on his deal, which initially paid him as mainly a special teams player. He became the team's lead back down the stretch last year, helped lead the team to a Super Bowl appearance and led the NFL in yards per carry. It's likely that the two sides work something out, but if not, Tevin Coleman would become a lot more interesting. Even though he's set to be San Fran's lead back in 2020, Mostert could lose touches to Coleman and Jerick McKinnon, making him more of a low-end RB2/high-end RB3.
New England Patriots QB Cam Newton officially signed his contract with the Patriots Wednesday, July 8. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert has requested a trade, according to his agent.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert is coming off the best season of his career with 772 rushing yards and eight touchdowns but has not received the new contract he is looking for this offseason. Fantasy players should monitor the situation to see where Mostert will play this season because he can be at least a flex option in leagues.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs tweeted on Tuesday that he'd "be lying if I said I was comfortable starting back up" amid the coronavirus pandemic. The NFL has plenty of questions to answer regarding safety protocols for player health before training camps and the regular season begins, and it's possible that players will decide to opt out of playing altogether. If Diggs ultimately decides to play in 2020, he'll be the No. 1 wideout in his first year in Buffalo, but his fantasy ceiling might depend on how much Buffalo throws the ball and whether quarterback Josh Allen can make strides as a passer. John Brown and Cole Beasley will take targets away and give Diggs a lower ceiling as more of a low-end WR2 in fantasy.
Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson said the team will consider free-agent kicker Stephen Gostkowski. A left hip injury cost Gostkowski most of his final season with the Patriots, but his .874 field-goal percentage is the fifth-best all time. "We certainly have confidence in Greg Joseph, I thought Greg did a great job for us, came in there at the end of last year and did a great job for us and helped us," Robinson said. "Itd be his job to lose but we want as competitive a position there as possible." Joseph has only attempted four field goals in the NFL, and they all came in 2018 with the Browns. He did make all nine of his extra points in two games with Tennessee last year, but if the Titans signed Gostkowski and he proves to be fully healthy, the veteran could easily take over and become fantasy relevant once again.
Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson has continued discussions with running back Derrick Henry's representation on a long-term contract extension with just one week left to reach an agreement before the July 15 deadline. If the sides can't agree, Henry will play 2020 on the $10.278 million franchise tag. Henry led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns in 2019. He led the team to the AFC Championship game and added 446 rushing yards in three playoff games. The former Alabama star had six 100-yard rushing games in the regular season and two more in the postseason. The bruising 25-year-old back will continue to be featured in this run-first offense, which makes him a top-five fantasy football running back that will come off the board in the first round.
Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson said that he would like to see free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in-person before he would consider signing him. However, the Titans still can't bring Clowney in for a physical after the pass-rusher had core muscle surgery in the offseason. With the Browns likely out of the running for Clowney's services, it could be just Tennessee, Seattle and Las Vegas in the running. The oft-injured Clowney will have to settle for a one-year deal before testing free agency again next offseason, but he'd definitely bring an added pass-rushing dimension to the Titans Defense. Clowney would prefer to sign with a team before training camps get underway later this month.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd is expected to play the big-slot role for the 49ers this season. Hurd was a third-round pick in last year's draft, but he never saw the field in his rookie season because of an injury. But the 24-year-old out of Baylor is one of those weapons that head coach Kyle Shanahan loves to utilize all over the field and at different positions. With Deebo Samuel (foot) potentially missing the beginning of the season, Hurd could make even more of an impact in the passing game. Hurd played running back in college, and it's clear that the Niners would like to get him involved as a playmaker in 2020. He's certainly a name to keep an eye on as we approach training camp this month.
Knowing that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is under contract with the team for the next 12 years, 62-year-old head coach Andy Reid isn't even considering retirement anytime soon. If Reid were to stick around until the end of Mahomes' extension, he'd be 74 years old. Bills great Marv Levy and Bears founder George Halas coached when they were 72 years old. The combination of Reid and Mahomes could be great for a long time to come, and some are discussing their names with the likes of great coach/quarterback couplings such as Belichick and Brady, Payton and Brees and Walsh and Montana.
Free-agent PK Stephen Gostkowski (Patriots) could be an option for the Tennessee Titans, according to general manager Jon Robinson.
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry is not close to a long-term contract extension at this point. Henry's representatives have been talking with the Titans this offseason about a new deal.
Fantasy Spin: The two sides have a week to reach a deal or Henry will play on the one-year contract he signed. Henry is one of the top running back in the NFL and should be a first-round pick in all fantasy leagues.
Free-agent DE Jadeveon Clowney (Seahawks) has received interest from the Tennessee Titans this offseason, but general manager Jon Robinson said he would like to meet with Clowney and have the team doctors examine him before working on a contract.
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, 62, said he's not close to retiring soon.
Free-agent WR Chad Johnson (Patriots) tweeted that he was preparing for a workout with the Las Vegas Raiders. A Raiders spokesman said he wasn't aware of any scheduled workouts with Johnson, who last played in the NFL in the 2011 season with the New England Patriots.
The odds have likely increased that free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will re-sign with the Seattle Seahawks, in the opinion of The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta. The Browns reportedly offered Clowney as much as $17 million at one point, but they're likely out of the picture now after they restructured Olivier Vernon's deal on Tuesday. The Raiders reportedly made an offer to Clowney this week, but it's considered to be the third-best offer he's received. Seattle won't offer him $15-16 million a year, but he doesn't have much to choose from at this point and would benefit from the familiarity of returning to the Seahawks. The 27-year-old is a pass-rushing force when healthy, but his lack of production (zero double-digit sack seasons) and lengthy injury history give pause to owners in IDP leagues. Expect Clowney to sign soon with training camp quickly approaching.
The Cleveland Browns signed No. 10 overall pick Jedrick Wills to his rookie contract on Tuesday. Wills and the team agreed upon a four-year, $19.7 million deal with a team option for a fifth year. The entire contract is fully guaranteed and the rookie tackle will take home an $11.889 million signing bonus. With Wills under contract, Cleveland has all but two of their draft picks signed as they gear up to begin training camp later in the month. Wills has plenty of work ahead of him as he will be asked to switch from right tackle, which he played in college, to left tackle. All reports about Wills' switch have been positive up until this point as the protector of Baker Mayfield's blind side.
Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has not engaged in contract talks with the team since March, according to a source Monday, July 6. If a long-term extension isn't done by July 15, Prescott will play out the 2020 season under the franchise tag.
Updating a previous story, free-agent LB Jadeveon Clowney (Seahawks) is becoming more likely to return to the Seattle Seahawks in 2020, according to Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times.
Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler's receiving grade of 94.2 over the last three seasons ranks No. 1 among all running backs, according to Pro Football Focus.
Fantasy Spin: Ekeler should handle the lion's share of the backfield duties all season and may become even more involved in the passing game with either of QB Tyrod Taylor or rookie Justin Herbert under center. He should be selected as a low-tier RB1.
Updating a previous story, New England Patriots RB Rex Burkhead will 'almost certainly play the final year of his three-year contract' after agreeing to restructure his deal and create just shy of $1 million in cap space Tuesday, July 7, according to Sean T. McGuire of NESN.com.