The day before the 2019 NFL league year kicks off is turning out to be a wild one, as we saw two high-level stars traded within minutes of one another on Tuesday night. First Chiefs shipped pass rusher Dee Ford to the 49ers for a 2020 second-round pick.and then, in a move that would have really rocked the boat but sort of slid under the radar, the
Moving Ford for that pick is a massive deal, and not just because within minutes of the deal getting done, the 49ers reportedly gave Ford a massive $87.5 million extension over the next five years.
, but Kansas City made it known they were more than willing to tag and trade the pass rusher, because they did not believe they were capable of reaching an extension with him and were worried Ford might end up trying to hold out for the season.
The Chiefs drafted Ford in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and the 23rd overall pick did not live up to expectations through the first four-and-a-half years of his career. Then he came on like gangbusters last season, finishing the year with 13 sacks and a league-leading seven forced fumbles. He was a game-wrecker down the stretch of his contract year, registering eight sacks, nine tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hits and five forced fumbles in the final nine games of the season.
Getting that kind of production over the next few years would give the 49ers a massive jolt to a defense that sorely needs pass rush help. With a defensive line that includes Ford, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas (a slightly disappointing early first-round pick so far), Arik Armstead (who can be cut with no dead cap space) and potentially Nick Bosa or Josh Allen at No. 2 overall, there is some serious juice to that defensive line for Robert Saleh's defense.
The 49ers also Kwon Alexander, giving him a surprisingly large contract with him coming off a torn ACL. With Richard Sherman and Adrian Colbert on the back end of the defense, this is a really interesting unit.and landed linebacker
Clearly there's an impetus here to get better right now in San Francisco. Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are on long deals but they're almost halfway through them at this point. The 49ers need a winning season, and they need to contend with the Rams. Shanahan and Lynch have to believe with the moves they've made this offseason that they can do that, provided that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo stays healthy this year.
For the Chiefs, it's surprising to see them let a talented defensive player walk, because they badly need defensive talent. But it's largely believed they don't see Ford as a perfect fit as they shift their defense, and it's possible they're worried he won't continue to produce once he's paid. They also have extensions for Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes (already!) to worry about and just gave Tyrann Mathieu a big pile of money. This frees up $14.5 million in cap space that they could potentially use to chase a free agent.
Also, this could be a really good pick, with the 49ers giving up a 2020 second-round pick in exchange for Ford. If San Francisco is bad next year, it's a great pick. Even if they win the Super Bowl, it's still a top-65 pick. That plays into the idea that the Niners are trying to win too -- they don't want to give up a top-40 pick this year in exchange for Ford, but will gamble on next season's pick.
This is a win for Ford, obviously, a really nice deal for the Niners and a somewhat questionable move for the Chiefs as they hope to compete for a Super Bowl in 2019.