Given the geometry shown in your CAD picture, it looks like you would have the space to add a new attachment point to the intake side plate below the hinge point such that the cylinder would be very low and close to the frame rail. This would protect the cylinder behind the bumper. Obviously, the action would be reversed in this arrangement (cylinder extended to retract the intake and retracted to extend the intake). But it still should have adequate lever arm to provide the necessary force.
Another option would be to use some sort of frangible attachment so that the cylinder would break away from the intake before bending. We have used nylon bolts (from Home Depot) to attach things that we wanted to break away before they could be damaged. That worked pretty well. You will want to have enough replacement nylon bolts to be able to replace them after they break away. Hopefully they don’t break from the force of the cylinder itself.
Straightening a bent rod is nearly impossible. We had similar issues of bending rods in 2019 and tried straightening several. We were only able to get one to work after straightening and it was leaky. Your best bet if you can’t protect the cylinder would be to have plenty of spare cylinders.