Nick Bosa. Arik Armstead. DeForest Buckner. Dee Ford.
"The 4 Golden Horsemen" of the 49ers defense are back.
Ford's full recovery from a quadriceps injury allows San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh to have once again what many believe is the best defensive line in the NFL.
And at the best possible time: The NFL Playoffs.
Each of them can cause fear in any rival. But together, they bring a near unstoppable force against any offensive line.
San Francisco is only one of three teams this year that had four players with at least 6.5 sacks (Carolina and Jacksonville the other two). Armstead (10.0 sacks), Bosa (9.0 sacks), Buckner (7.5 sacks) and Ford (6.5 sacks) were responsible for 33 of the 48 sacks the Niners recorded this season.
"The Horsemen" had more sacks than nine NFL teams this year: Bears, Raiders, Bengals, Texans, Chargers, Falcons, Lions, Seahawks and Dolphins.
And the number could have been higher had Ford not missed almost six games due to that nagging quad injury. Not only did the 28-year-old Defensive End miss out on more sacks, his absence allowed opponents to put more men on Bosa, limiting the rookie's impact.
In games in which Ford took at least 15 snaps, Bosa got 7.0 of his 9.0 sacks.
It's not a coincidence.
In Saturday's game against the Minnesota Viking, the four defensive standouts will challenge an offensive line that only allowed 66 hits to quarterback Kirk Cousins this season, which ranked fifth best in the league.
Cousins may not be the most elusive QB in the league, but he has good protection. He was only sacked 28 times in 2019, which ranked 22nd in the NFL.
The return of Ford, who practiced at full strength Wednesday, coupled with the comeback of Jaquiski Tartt and Kwon Alexander, gives the Niners the strongest and healthiest defense they’ve had since Week 8. But Saturday's success against the Vikings will ride heavily on the shoulders of “The Horsemen.”
It's time for Bosa, Armstead, Buckner and Ford to ride together again.
The first-ever 49ers home playoff game at Levi's Stadium will be on NBC Bay Area. Pregame coverage starts at 11:30 a.m.