Dee Ford’s tenure in San Francisco is a great lesson in perception
In March of 2019, the 49ers sent a 2020 second-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for edge rusher Dee Ford. The unfortunate reality of the situation is that Ford’s talent level most likely has absolutely nothing to do with this decision. Seriously, the impact he had on the 49ers' defense in 2019 is something that does not get discussed nearly enough. Now compare that with how the 49ers' defense fared when Ford was not on the field. What makes it even more fascinating is how impressive the numbers looked on early downs when the 49ers' defensive line didn’t always have the luxury to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback.
Regrettably, a string of injuries over the past couple of seasons has kept Ford off the field and, as a result, altered the perception of just how valuable he was to this football team. The majority of the conversations I see surrounding Ford are centered around criticism of his inability to stay on the field, which is something that I think has become too personal with miscalculated anger towards athletes in professional sports. I wanted to address this topic because I think it has been an issue in sports for far too long. When players like Ford are brought up, the disdain that many people speak with will lead you to believe things that frankly don’t do any justice to the player he was and his impact on this 49ers football team. People speak of this player as if he controls the fact that he has chronic back issues, which is a direct consequence of playing a violent sport for the entertainment of the very same pundits who go out of their way to diminish his contributions.
Again, I understand that when there is a lack of results and production in sports, fans will always want to assign blame. This is not a player who is being let go because they didn’t want to hit the weight room. No, this is simply a matter of a player's body succumbing to the rigors of playing NFL football for the better part of a decade. There is nothing wrong with feeling like Ford’s time in San Francisco ultimately didn’t pan out the way it was envisioned. At the end of the day, no matter where you stand on Ford’s tenure, the very least any of us can do is give the man the respect of acknowledging the driving force of his departure is not an act of his own, just an unfortunate circumstance that is a grim reality when playing professional football.
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