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49ers Have 'Fingers Crossed' on Dee Ford's Potential Return

Nick Bosa was on hand as an onlooker during the 49ers offseason workout program. Although the goal wasn't for the pass rusher to participate in on-field work, the plan was to have him in the building for the final weeks of the offseason workout program and the team's three-day minicamp and potentially be available when the team reconvenes for training camp next month.

The 49ers are hoping for a similar outlook for fellow pass rusher Dee Ford.

Ford only appeared in one game last season while dealing with a neck and back injury suffered back in September. He spent much of the offseason rehabbing at the 49ers team facility in Santa Clara before continuing his rehab offsite under the guidance of a specialist.

"He's been here since the beginning of February doing everything," Shanahan said. "Had about three and a half months here. And a week before everyone came back, he went back to Kansas City with his back specialist. He made a lot of progress in the months that he was rehabbing here. We knew we weren't going to put him through OTAs because we don't want his back to act up."

Given the uncertainty of Ford's availability, the 49ers signed former Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Samson Ebukam earlier this offseason. Ebukam is slotted to fill the role of a speed rusher off the edge, a different function than his SAM linebacker role with the Rams.

Ebukam has notched 14 sacks and 28 quarterback hits over his four NFL seasons in Los Angeles and anticipates those numbers to grow with his new opportunity to do less reading and “just attack” in San Francisco's defense. The 49ers hope the 6-foot-3, 246 pound outside linebacker, who has a similar build to Ford (6-foot-2, 252 pounds), will offer a similar skill set off the edge.

"He's definitely a vet for us in the room," Ebukam said of Ford. "I know that he wants to help and he's definitely given me some pointers on how to get off the rock faster, what type of pass rush moves I need to be in on tackles that will work for my size because we are kind of the same size."

While it's not certain if Ford will be available when the team reconvenes next month, the 49ers have been pleased with his progress and remain hopeful the Pro Bowl pass rusher can contribute in the near future. With hopes of a healthy Ford, Ebukam could add more depth and rotation along the D-line in 2021, a valued strength at the position.

"I'm just keeping my fingers crossed and I'm hoping (Dee) can come ready to go in training camp and hopefully he can help us out this year," Shanahan added.