49ers’ dominant defense could make a return just in time for playoffs


SANTA CLARA (KRON) — The San Francisco’s 49ers’ bye-week was just what they needed to recover and recharge.

After five consecutive action-packed, intense games towards the end of the regular season, the Niners were able to take a breath and focus on health.

Thursday was San Francisco’s final practice before the big game, and it was a special one.

DE Dee Ford returned to practice for the first time since he re-injured his hamstring. He played just four snaps in the final six games of the regular season.

Ford, Kwon Alexander and Jaquiski Tartt all practiced for the first time since October, when the 49ers’ defense was the most dominant force in the league.

Which means… the “F.A.B.B. Four” are back together. We could see Ford, Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa and DeForest Buckner on the field together Saturday.

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan spoke Thursday following the team’s final practice. He said he and Ford are trying to move smarter with the injury.

“We did wait longer. We’re trying to be smarter about it. It’s tough for athletes in these situations. They want to play no matter what,” Shanahan said.

The edge rusher aggravated his hamstring injury against the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 8 and was ruled out.

Shanahan said he hopes things will be different next time.

“He knows how much we’re counting on him to go out so he’s not going to just come up and say ‘hey coach I’m a little tight’. No one totally knows, he thought he could go,” Shanahan said. “I hope Dee if he feels that tight he can come tell me. Now I know from that history of what happened in New Orleans. If you’re feeling like that, well I know what that means. Then we have to make a decision whether we want to make that gamble or not.”

If the F.A.B.B 4 does return Saturday, defense will be the headline of the game. The Niners could match Minnesota’s season-round elite defense.

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