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
The Cleveland Browns and edge rusher Olivier Vernon have agreed to a restructured deal for the 2020 season. Vernon was originally owed $15.25 million non-guaranteed and will now bring home $11 million guaranteed for this upcoming season, with a $3.75 base salary and a $7 million signing bonus. The team and the pass-rusher were originally expected to part ways earlier in the offseason but he will stick around to bookend star defender Myles Garrett at least for another year.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III thinks Denver's backfield in 2020 will be explosive with himself and Phillip Lindsay. Gordon realizes that both he and Lindsay will be fighting to be the No. 1 back, regardless of the balance in the play-calling. "I hope it's electric, man, just cause it's crazy that his numbers [are what they are]; I just had a season with Austin Ekeler phenomenal player. Their game is about the same. And I think Lindsay is a great, phenomenal back," Gordon said. The former Bolts back acknowledged that the two will be competing for top-dog duties, but the Broncos didn't sign Gordon in free agency for him to be the No. 2. The two-time Pro Bowler should see plenty of work and is an RB2 with upside in an offense more suited to his strengths.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson ended last year as one of the league's most dominant players. He finished with 3,127 passing yards and 36 touchdowns (six interceptions) while maintaining an exceptional 66.1 completion percentage. He also added 1,206 yards and seven additional scores on the ground and finished second with 867 rushing yards before contact. Though it is reasonable to think that the 23-year-old will regress this season, analyst Marcellus Wiley believes the opposite. While conversing on Fox Sports "Speak for Yourself," the former defensive end stated that he feels the young signal-caller will be "greater than great" in 2020, which is a scary declaration considering his statistical output through 15 games last season. He also indicated that a second consecutive MVP award is on the horizon. Whether fantasy managers agree or not, they should expect Jackson to be the first or second quarterback off the draft boards for the upcoming campaign.
The San Francisco 49ers have signed journeyman cornerback Jamar Taylor and waived cornerback Teez Tabor in a deep roster move on Monday. Taylor has bounced around the league for seven years, and he's likely to serve as nothing more than some depth at DB on the off chance that the team needs it. With COVID-19 cutting a swath through rosters this season though, depth players may find themselves in starring roles if push comes to shove. Hopefully, Taylor won't have to be leaned on very hard.
The Kansas City Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes agreed to a 10-year contract extension on Monday, according to a league source. The deal that ties Mahomes to Kansas City through the 2031 season will be the richest contract in NFL history. Last year's Super Bowl MVP had two years remaining on his contract, so it's essentially a 12-year contract in total. Mahomes' extension is worth over $400 million in total, and sources think it will be tied to a percentage of the salary cap for each season. Cha ching. Mahomes cashes in after winning MVP in 2018 with 50 regular season touchdowns and leading the Chiefs to a Super Bowl title last season. His dual-threat ability makes him extremely dangerous on the football field in KC's explosive offense. Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are the top two fantasy signal-callers in 2020.
Detroit Lions WR Kenny Golladay recorded 17 receptions of at least 25 yards during the 2019 season.
Fantasy Spin: Golladay was successful last season even though he had to play with several quarterbacks. He has a chance to improve on his stats with a full season with Matthew Stafford. He should be at least a No. 2 receiver in all fantasy leagues and will be a weekly starting option.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes agreed to terms on a 10-year contract extension with the Chiefs Monday, July 6, that will run through the 2031 season, according to sources. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the contract with be the richest contract in NFL history.
Fantasy Spin: Mahomes is coming off his first championship and is only 24 years old, so the Chiefs locked him up for most of the rest of his career. He is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and is a must-start in all fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers CB Teez Tabor (undisclosed) was waived Monday, July 6, with a Non-Football Injury designation.
Free-agent CB Jamar Taylor (Falcons) signed a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers Monday, July 6. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Adam Schefter is reporting the Chiefs and QB Patrick Mahomes have reached an agreement on a 10-year contract extension that ties him to Kansas City through the 2031 season.
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase was looking to trade safety Marcus Maye prior to the start of last season, and general manager Joe Douglas has been fielding offers for him for almost a year. Maye is in the final year of his rookie deal and isn't believed to be in the team's long-term plans, especially since the Jets would prefer to extend All-Pro safety Jamal Adams instead. New York also selected safety Ashtyn Davis in the third round this year. The 27-year-old had 65 combined tackles and an interception over a full season in 2019, but he has only four interceptions and half a sack in his three seasons in the NFL. You can ignore Maye in IDP leagues.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku demanded a trade from the team several days ago but the team may not be so quick to accommodate him. ESPN's Josina Anderson tweeted on Monday that she believes that Njoku is still a big part of the Browns' plans going forward. Anderson went on to state that the Chicago Bears have been monitoring the situation, signaling that they may be a potential trade partner if Njoku is moved. The Browns signed Austin Hooper earlier in the offseason, prompting Njoku to want out of town.
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku remains a big part of the Browns' offense, but a source said that Njoku has wanted out.
Fantasy Spin: Njoku is coming off of a lost season, and now he has Austin Hooper in town fresh off of a career year. So Njoku is blocked to a degree, but he might be a lottery ticket TE2 late in drafts.
San Francisco 49ers George Kittle remains without a new contract. While some reports suggest that the 26-year-old could land a deal that would pay him around $17 million per year, Matt Barrows from the Athletic was the latest to chime in, with the reporter hinting that Kittle would instead receive $13 million per year. The 2017 fifth-round pick has been one of the most consistent producers for the team over the years and finished the 2019 regular season with 85 receptions for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns. Fantasy managers should prepare for him to be the first or second tight end selected in fantasy drafts for 2020.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs could be in line for a breakout year, a sentiment that was echoed by ESPN's Mike Clay, who predicted the sophomore back to total 1,400 yards from scrimmage this season. The 22-year-old finished 2019 with 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns but was hindered by a shoulder issue that cost him three games while impacting him in others. With the Raiders having some potent weapons on the receiving end, things may open up more for Jacobs in 2020. Look for him to fly off the draft boards within the first round the majority of fantasy drafts for the upcoming campaign.
New York Giants DE Leonard Williams is seeking $18-$20 million in a long-term extension. The Giants are unwilling to approach that price tag.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon could lead the league in rushing this season, according to MSN's Matt Johnson. Johnson stated that with the team's enhanced offensive line and the arrival of rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, he wouldn't be surprised if the 23-year-old accumulated nearly 1,400 yards on the ground this year. Mixon finished last season with 1,137 yards and five touchdowns off of a career-high 278 attempts. He also pulled in 35 catches for three additional scores and ranked seventh in rushing yards after contact. Fantasy managers will want to plan accordingly as he should be one of the first backs off the boards in fantasy drafts for the 2020 campaign.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley could be in line for his best season yet under new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. According to NFL Network's Kimberly Jones, the team "may run an offense that's similar to the Cowboy's scheme under Garrett." Dallas was ranked in the top 10 in rush attempts under Garrett between 2016 and 2019, during which time, Ezekiel Elliott won two rushing titles. Despite being hindered by a high ankle sprain last season, Barkley still ran for over 1,000 yards and had six touchdowns in 13 appearances while also catching 51 receptions for an additional two scores. Look for him to come off the board within the first three picks in fantasy drafts for the 2020 campaign, especially in PPR formats.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers accumulated 483 passing yards on screen plays in 2019 - the second-highest mark in the league - according to Pro Football Focus.