49ers general manager John Lynch sounds more optimistic about Dee Ford being ready for the 2021 season than earlier this year.
"Well, Dee's doing well," Lynch said, via the team's official transcript. "With that type of injury, you don't want to get too high or too low and I think he's really in a good place. He's working. He's been here every day. He's working extremely hard. It's encouraging to look out my window and see things progress, but I think we'll leave it at that."
The comments came after Lynch sounded iffy in January on whether Ford could be ready to return this year.
The edge rusher played just one game in 2020 due to neck and back injuries. The 30-year-old has played just 12 games since the Niners acquired him in a blockbuster trade in 2019.
Ford restructured his bulky contract earlier this offseason, signing a deal worth $24 million over two years, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported earlier this month. The pass rusher was set to earn base salaries of $15.2 million and $16.2 million the next two seasons. The restructure cleared around $11 million in the 49ers cap situation, allowing them to hang on to several of their key players.
"(W)e're very appreciative to Dee and his representative Adisa [Bakari] for working with us to come up with something that would allow for us to gain some more room," Lynch said of the restructure. "He worked with us and we're extremely appreciative. I think, both sides won there."
With Ford currently unlikely to pass a physical, the 49ers had little choice but to keep him on the roster at this stage. The restructuring, however, helped both parties. It sounds like it's possible Ford could be healthy by the start of the season.
The hope is that the once double-digit sack artist can finally stay healthy as the Niners gear up to bounce back and reclaim the NFC West.