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MIAMI — The conclusion of Dee Ford’s time with the Kansas City Chiefs was not as bitter as it was made to seem. The Chiefs franchise tagged Ford at the end of the 2018 season after losing in the AFC Championship game, when Ford’s late offsides call was criticized as the defining reason Kansas City was eliminated.
After the Chiefs fired longtime defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, who ran a 3-4 scheme, and hired Steve Spagnuolo — who runs a 4-3 scheme and spent seven years with head coach Andy Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles — they immediately sought to trade Ford, viewing him as a bad scheme fit, and also considering the massive salary it would take to keep him.
Ford said on Tuesday that not only was the process amicable, but Reid — who said Ford is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL earlier on Tuesday — helped him in looking for a suitor.
“It was a great thing that Andy wanted to help orchestrate at the time. He wanted to help me go to a great place,” Ford said. “That’s what he understands about the game. He understands that you can’t keep everybody. So at the end of the day, that’s what I mean by there is no love lost. This is part of the game that I feel like a lot of people don’t understand because they feel like I hate them and they hate me. No, it’s part of the game.”
Reid, along with other Chiefs players, texted Ford when the trade (for the 49ers’ 2020 second-round draft pick) was completed. He reiterated that he understood the business side of the NFL.
“You see a lot of players to stay at certain teams, their whole career but for the most part you don’t always work out like that,” Ford said. “And so that doesn’t really mean, ‘Oh, they don’t like me,’ or nothing like that. It’s a business at the end of the day, and I’m a businessman at the end of the day, so that was just part of decision making that came with the game, that was nothing personal. You know, Andy texted me, ‘Congratulations.’ I got a bunch of congratulations from my old team after I signed.”
The process of coming to the 49ers was a concerted effort, Ford said.
He pointed to the fact that he makes an effort to watch film of other team’s defensive lines and was aware of the quality in the 49ers’ ranks.
The attraction of the Bay Area was another selling point.
“As soon as we realized that we could listen to trade offers, we just looked around at teams that we knew needed edge rushers and were going after edge rushers in the draft,” Ford said. “And as soon as I heard San Francisco I’m like that’s definitely a place that I could go to. I would love to play in the Bay. I knew Saleh, Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, DeForest, D.J. Jones. I knew. I saw them on tape watched a lot of tape.
“So I’ve always seen them play on tape, so I already knew the talent that they had. And at the time they had Reuben Foster, I knew how crazy he was. And at the end of the day I’m like this is a great opportunity for me. They had a really good chance of getting Bosa at the time, having one or two top picks. I’m just like it’s a no brainer… I knew how lethal they were, I knew what type of year Buckner had, so I just had to jump on that opportunity.”