49ers’ Dee Ford tells his (off) side to story that cost Chiefs trip to 2019 Super Bowl

The 49ers' Dee Ford discusses facing his former team, the Chiefs, in the Super Bowl.
(Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

A costly penalty by linebacker Dee Ford prevented the Kansas City Chiefs from reaching the Super Bowl last season.

The Chiefs and Ford both made it to the sport’s biggest stage this season, but they are on opposite sides.

Last March, the Chiefs traded Ford to the San Francisco 49ers.

On Sunday, in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium, Ford will try to help the 49ers win their sixth title and prevent the Chiefs from winning their second.

The Chiefs might have played the Rams in the Super Bowl last season if not for Ford’s miscue in the AFC title game against the New England Patriots.


With just over a minute left, the Chiefs led 28-24 and the Patriots faced a third-and-10 situation. The Chiefs intercepted a pass by Tom Brady, but officials cited Ford for lining up in the neutral zone.

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Brady subsequently led the Patriots to a touchdown. The Chiefs tied the score with a field goal to force overtime, but the Patriots won the coin toss and drove for a game-winning touchdown that sent them to the Super Bowl, where they defeated the Rams 13-3.

Ford spoke Tuesday of being accountable for mistakes.

“Most players you’re going to come across had plays that haunt you,” he said. “Just part of the game.

“But what makes great players is perseverance and competition. And I don’t harp on things in life. I’m not going to harp on things on the field either.”

That has not stopped reporters and others from raising the issue.

Chiefs linebacker Frank Clark, acquired in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks to fill the void left by Ford, said in January that jumping offside occasionally was OK, but lining up offside was “inexcusable.”

Ford reportedly agreed with Clark’s assessment during Super Bowl media night on Monday.

Ford was sidelined because of several injuries this season. He sat out the final six games and finished with 6½ sacks. Ford returned for the playoffs and recorded a sack in an NFC divisional-round victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

He said Tuesday that he was undeterred by his mistake last season.

“If I spent time pouting about what happened — first of all that’s the not the makings of a man to me, and that’s not the making of a great player.

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“And I knew that I was going to have a big role for whatever team that I was going to play for. And I needed to fill that void. I needed to show up.”

Making a name

The 49ers finished 13-3, earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC and advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2012 season.

Jimmie Ward, a 49ers safety, was not impressed.

“We’re nobodies until we earn it,” he said. “To be honest, if we lose this game we’re really nobody. Like nobody will never know us in history, so we just got to earn it.”

Feeling good

Former USC linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who played for the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL at the end of the 2005 season, worked Radio Row while promoting the CBD company he founded.

Tatupu suffered multiple concussions and underwent numerous surgeries in six NFL seasons before he retired at age 28.

“I feel better at 37 than I did at 27,” he said.

Tatupu played on Trojans teams that won the Associated Press national championship in 2003 and the Bowl Championship Series title in 2004.

He made it to the Super Bowl as a rookie, but the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Seahawks 21-10 at Detroit’s Ford Field.

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“It was Detroit and cold,” he said, chuckling, when asked about his memory of that game . “And I would say the whole experience was cold because we know what happened in the game.”

Tatupu is the son of the late Mosi Tatupu, who played fullback at USC and in the NFL.

“To know that my dad got to watch me in the Super Bowl, my mom got to watch me and all my loved ones, it was quite an experience even though it was not the one you wished for,” he said.

High praise

Matt Land of Dalton High in Dalton, Ga., was selected as the Don Shula NFL high school coach of the year. All 32 NFL teams nominated candidates.

The Rams nominated Paul Knox of Washington Prep. The Chargers nominated Mil’von James of Inglewood.

Crenshaw High’s Robert Garrett won the award in 2017 after he was nominated by the Chargers.