Fully healthy Nick Bosa is ready for monster year with 49ers – San Francisco 49ers Blog

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — From the moment the San Francisco 49ers picked Nick Bosa the #2 pick in 2019, coach Kyle Shanahan never doubted what he would get from his star defensive end.

When recently asked if he’d ever coached a rookie who didn’t play or act like a rookie, Shanahan playfully took it a step further.

“Bosa,” Shanahan said without hesitation. “Bosa has been a pro since he was three years old.”

After turning the Niners’ defense into one of the best in the league as a rookie, Bosa suffered a cruciate ligament tear in his left knee in Week 2 of 2020. In 2021, Bosa rebounded with the best season of his young career, amassing 15.5 sacks en route to his second Pro Bowl.

Three years into his NFL career, Bosa is not satisfied with what he has achieved. Losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV doesn’t hurt as much as it used to, but Bosa says it made him realize he hates losing more than winning. To a lesser extent, Bosa was at least slightly upset that he didn’t even get an NFL Comeback Player of the Year pick last season.

Think of it as extra motivation for Bosa, who was able to spend his offseason training with his Los Angeles Chargers edge-rusher brother Joey Bosa in Florida rather than recovering from a knee injury, and seems poised to start his game to take it to a new level.

“It was completely different,” said Bosa. “Last year I didn’t really do any reps until a few weeks into the year. Just being able to get out there and get my body used to playing soccer has been the most enjoyable camp I’ve ever been to.”

If Bosa can stay healthy, it’s not outrageous to think he could earn the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award and a lucrative contract extension that makes him the league’s highest-paid defenseman. Because of that, the Niners are doing everything they can to protect him this preseason, giving him the occasional day off and making it clear he won’t play in any preseason games.

“He’s one of the best I’ve seen,” said defense coordinator DeMeco Ryans. “The way he works and the way he shows up and plays, he makes it look easy. And I know it’s not easy… One of the best D-Ends in this league. And again, I’m happy for that. Coming to him this year, he’s not worried about recovering from an injury. He has nothing to worry about but getting better as a football player so it’s exciting to see where he’s going.

Given the size of the Bosa brothers’ offseason regiments, the fact that Bosa has been able to train with his brother for the past six months and not endure a lengthy rehab is no small feat. Four days a week (every weekday except Wednesday), the Bosas trained near their Fort Lauderdale homes. It included a 7am run, breakfast and a trip to the gym that Joey had built. They would take off there until around 1pm, followed by a stop in the ice tub before heading home to relax. Two of those days focused on speed training and lateral movements with upper body raises, and two more focused on flexibility exercises and lower body work.

Mixed in is a lot of flexibility and mobility work to amplify the type of moves they make on the pitch. The idea, according to Nick Bosa, is to “build our bodies for a long season.” Specific pass rush training is also integrated during the off-season. For meals, Bosa has a personal chef who prepares him a diet consisting entirely of vegetables, fruit, and meat, with no bread or pasta.

When it comes to Bosa, forget the “in the best shape of his life” cliché. It could be that the only person who will report to a camp in better shape than Bosa in 2022 is Bosa in 2023.

“He looks like someone literally etched him,” said left tackle Trent Williams. “He’s like a sculpture. You don’t get that way just by waking up, eating cereal, and playing the game… It’s no secret why he’s as good as he is. I mean, it’s obvious the talent is there, but the work ethic obviously breeds the talent.”

As a rookie, Bosa was second in the NFL in pressure (60) but only managed 9 sacks. He converted more last season, finishing with 53 pressings (tied fifth) and 15.5 sacks (fourth). Since Bosa arrived in 2019, the Niners’ pressure rate is more than 6 percentage points higher when he’s on the field than when he’s not, and over the past five seasons only the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive tackle, Aaron Donald, average more pressure per game than Bosa 3.3.

This production has come despite an increase in the number of doubles teams facing Bosa.

In 2021, Bosa faced a doubles team on 25.9% of his 313 pass rush attempts, the second-highest percentage in the league. As the season progressed, Bosa began finding ways to impress on doubles as well, creating opportunities for his teammates to make plays as the Niners posted 13.5 sacks on plays when Bosa had the initial pressure, the fifth-biggest in the league.

While there was a lot of contract drama unfolding around him this offseason, Bosa never once expressed concern about when his payday might come. That’s because Bosa and the Niners were in no rush to get anything done. San Francisco likes to wait until a player has one year left on their contract before negotiating (the Niners exercised Bosa’s fifth-year option for 2023 in April). And if Bosa has the big year everyone’s anticipating, he’ll have maximum leverage in negotiations that are expected to coincide with a significant salary cap increase.

“What I know is that as long as we’re here, Nick Bosa will be a part of the Niners and he’ll be paid well for it,” said general manager John Lynch. “His time will come and when it does he will get what he deserves because man what a special player.”

https://www.espn.com/blog/san-francisco-49ers/post/_/id/41355/fully-healthy-nick-bosa-is-ready-for-monster-year-with-san-francisco-49ers-lucrative-contract-extension Fully healthy Nick Bosa is ready for monster year with 49ers – San Francisco 49ers Blog

Emma Bowman

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