SANTA CLARA, Calif. — In the closing moments of Saturday’s game against the Washington Commanders, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan removed his defensive starters from the game.
By this point, the Niners had a 17-point lead, and the game was effectively over.
But that kind of advantage is often a pass rusher’s dream, and when Shanahan made the move, he already knew what was coming next from star defense end Nick Bosa. A good-natured, if not at least somewhat serious, objection.
“I know he’s going to look at me right away if I do that because he wants to keep counting the sacks, but I had to do this for the Niners,” Shanahan said.
In reality, Bosa had already done more than his share in the Niners’ 37-20 win. He was again the focus of San Francisco’s eighth straight win, amassing seven tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and five pressings. It was the latest addition to Bosa’s ever-growing case for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award and, according to tight end George Kittle, more fodder for his Most Valuable Player resume.
“I think today he secured his defensive MVP,” said Kittle. “I don’t know how not to. If you look at what he does every Sunday compared to everyone else in the league, whether it’s offense or defense, I don’t know why he’s not in the MVP talk as well. . Every day he’s just an absolute monster. All the sacks, they’re earned and deserved. He’s fantastic. He’s never bad.”
With two games to go in his fourth NFL season, Bosa is putting together his best year. In early Saturday games, he leads the NFL in sacks (17.5) and is third in pressure (51) while playing in 14 games. Bosa’s 17.5 sacks is a career high for him, tying him with Fred Dean for the second-highest in franchise history since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.
The season record for sacks in a season is 22.5, shared by TJ Watt and Michael Strahan. Bosa would need to hit 5.5 in the next two games to break the record, a mark he says he “maybe” can reach. However, Aldon Smith’s franchise record 19.5 sacks is a more realistic goal.
“I eye the 19.5 more than that [NFL record]’ Bosa said.
Bosa had a 15.5 sack breakout season in 2021, but entered this year believing he still had more to achieve. He credits more replays and an increased emphasis on film studies to take his game to the next level in 2022.
The Niners give Bosa the freedom to position himself on either side of the defensive line, and Bosa carefully studies each opponent to look for weaknesses. He then puts together a detailed charge plan for each opposing tackle that he believes will give him an advantage each week.
“I feel like I have an answer for every type of blocker at this point,” Bosa said. “Some better than others obviously, but it’s going well.”
So good, in fact, that linebacker Fred Warner said Bosa was about to play the best ball of his relatively young career.
“It’s crazy the level he’s playing at,” Warner said. “That’s a big reason why our defense is going the way it is because we know it takes all 11 to rush and the reporting is working together but when you know he’s on the field and the Opportunity to get home makes you stickier in reporting and you can sit on routes. He was just acting crazy.
Bosa earned his third Pro Bowl nod this week and is targeting his first All-Pro honor. While he says he’s more focused on team goals, he also doesn’t shy away from discussing the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, for which he and Dallas passrusher Micah Parsons appear to be the front runners.
“It’s a dream,” said Bosa. “I’ve been playing this game since I was 7 years old and I’ve been playing D-Line the whole time. I’ve watched guys over the years and just wanted to be in that position and I finally feel like I’m living my dream.”
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/35317049/nick-bosa-dominates-49ers-win-secured-dpoy-award Nick Bosa dominates in 49ers’ win; ‘secured’ DPOY award