The San Francisco 49ers Could Get an All-Important Pro Bowler Back at the Perfect Time for a Late Playoff Run

The San Francisco 49ers are hitting their stride at the right time. The team appeared to be trending in the wrong direction but has since flipped a switch. Kyle Shanahan’s squad could get a major boost soon with the return of Pro Bowl defensive end Dee Ford.

Ford’s return couldn’t come at a better time for the resurgent Niners.

The 49ers activated Dee Ford from injured reserve

49ers defensive end Dee Ford comes out of the tunnel before a game
Dee Ford of the San Francisco 49ers take the field before game against the Green Bay Packers | Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

When healthy, Dee Ford has proven that he can be one of the fiercest pass rushers in the NFL. He could return to action sooner rather than later.

According to Pro Football Talk, the San Francisco 49ers have activated the 30-year-old defensive end from injured reserve, along with linebacker Dre Greenlaw. Kyle Shanahan is hopeful that Ford can go in a crucial Week 12 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.

“I know he’s feeling great, from what he said,” said Shanahan. “So he’s just got to go out there and show it to us.”

Ford suffered a back injury earlier in the season, which caused him to miss San Francisco’s last four games.

The Auburn product has recorded five tackles and three sacks in six games during the 2021 season. The Niners must be hoping Ford can return to his 2018 form when he notched 13 sacks for the Kansas City Chiefs.

While that’s probably unrealistic, Dee Ford’s return to action could provide a massive boost to a 49ers team that’s gaining steam.

After losing to the Kyler Murray-less Arizona Cardinals in Week 9, the San Francisco 49ers fell to 3-5. However, they’ve won back-to-back games and are trending in the right direction.

The Niners entered the Monday Night Football tilt against the Los Angeles Rams as massive underdogs. Instead of Sean Mcvay’s crew running roughshod over San Fran, the exact opposite happened.

The 49ers established dominance early and often on both sides of the football, leading to an impressive 31-10 upset victory over LA.

The momentum carried over into the team’s most recent game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. San Francisco avoided the letdown after a big victory and took care of business against a lesser opponent.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense is finding itself as of late. The Niners have scored 30 or more points in three of their last four contests. The defense has played inspired football as well, holding their last two opponents to 20 points combined.

Adding Dee Ford into the mix can help San Francisco make a sneaky playoff run.

A playoff run could take Kyle Shanahan off the hot seat


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The San Francisco 49ers carry a 5-5 record into the Week 12 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. If the season ended today, they would get the final wild-card playoff spot in the NFC.

Unfortunately for Kyle Shanahan and company, there’s still plenty of football left in the 2021 season. The 49ers will need to keep winning to make it out of a tightly-contested playoff race.

San Francisco has had a roller-coaster season up to this point. It may surprise some people that this team is in prime playoff position, considering how it looked at times.

When the Niners were struggling, Shanahan’s seat started to heat up. He’s in his fifth season as head coach, and the franchise has high expectations, which he hasn’t met in 2021. However, his squad looks dangerous despite the rough start.

Deebo Samuel is a stud. George Kittle is healthy, and Jimmy Garoppolo continues to hang onto the starting quarterback job. The defense gets Dee Ford back to pair with Nick Bosa, who’s having a monster campaign.

With a tough yet winnable schedule down the stretch, the 49ers have an opportunity to make the playoffs. If that happens, Kyle Shanahan can disprove the narrative that he’s overrated.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.