The Chiefs had placed the franchise tag on Ford after he had a career-high 13 sacks last season and led the National Football League with seven forced fumbles.
The Chiefs slapped the franchise tag on Ford at $15.4 million in 2019 after a career year but were never going to give him the long-term contract he desires. Assuming the deal goes through, San Francisco will get Ford coming off a career season in which he recorded 55 tackles, 13 sacks and seven forced fumbles.
The 49ers finally landed a premier pass rusher off the edge.
The team entered the week with $66 million in cap space and likely had some $52 million to work with after agreeing to a deal with inside linebacker Kwon Alexander earlier in the week. However, an average annual value of $17.5 million puts Ford third among linebackers, and third among defensive ends. He was named to his first Pro Bowl while helping the Chiefs lead the National Football League in sacks with 52.
The Seahawks-style scheme employed by coordinator Robert Saleh doesn't blitz very often by design, making it imperative the defensive line can generate pressure with just four pass rushers. On multiple occasions, a sack that forced a fumble or a hurry that led to an interception might have been all that separated the Niners from victory. According to Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports, a herniated disc limited Ford to just two sacks in six games in 2017, which quickly halted the momentum of his 10-sack season in 2016. Ford long battled the perception that he was an underwhelming first-round pick in Kansas City (23rd overall in 2014).
This is a great move for the 49ers who can have some flexibility at the No. 2 pick if they choose to pass on Bosa or Allen and prefer to look at other positions, such as defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.
The 49ers also use a 4-3 defense, and it isn't clear where they plan to play Ford. Ford has racked up double-digit sacks in two of his past three seasons.
The Chiefs made Ford the No. 23 overall selection in 2014.
Ford's struggles against the run shouldn't matter much.