SANTA CLARA -- Edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford were together last season for only the first game of the season.
Ford never played past Week 1 due to a back injury. Bosa sustained a torn ACL in his left knee in the first quarter of Week 2.
There are a lot of reasons for 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek to be excited about his position group this season. And watching Bosa and Ford return from experiencing “the lowest of the lows” are at the top of the list.
Kocurek said Bosa hit an early arrival on every landmark in his rehabilitation. Bosa looks to be in peak condition as the 49ers enter the season opener on Sunday at the Detroit Lions.
"I'm really, really excited for him, more so because he put in all this work last year and had it taken away after a game and a quarter,” Kocurek said on 49ers Talk. “And hit rock bottom with an injury like that, that early in the season, with the amount of work that you put in getting to that point in the season, and having it taken away in the blink of an eye.
“And then to have to start it all over, the process, going from the lowest of the lows to getting back into the rehab process and the strength building and all that."
While the speed of Bosa’s return may be a pleasant surprise, there was little doubt he would eventually be back to form.
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But with Ford, there were no guarantees when last season ended that he would ever play football again.
Ford is likely to be used on Sunday as a situational pass rusher. All of Ford’s snaps are likely to take place on passing downs, when he can make a huge contribution.
And that is quite a recovery after a lot of questions regarding his future.
"And now, to see him come out on the other end of it, and the work that he's put in, just seeing the old Dee walking around with a smile on his face, eager to get back out there rather than the guy that I saw at times last year, not knowing, uncertain about the future,” Kocurek said. “It's just great to have him back, and moving the way he's moving.”
The 49ers open the season with 10 defensive linemen on their 53-man roster. The team is likely to suit up nine linemen for games, and Kocurek said he will find a way to give every one of them meaningful snaps.
Kocurek said he will start with a plan of how much he wants each of his linemen to play. Then, he will make adjustment through the course of the game to ride a hot hand or take out a player who needs a breather.
“We believe in a rotation here,” Kocurek said. “We want to keep guys fresh. We want to keep guys healthy throughout the season and to play the style we want to play, it’s very difficult to ask any one of them to play 55, 60, 65 plays in a game and continue to do that through a 17-game season. So we try to be smart on that.
“We’re going to rotate guys. We’re going to keep guys fresh and if you’re in uniform, you’re playing.”