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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch believe Nick Bosa can become an Aaron Donald-type player for 49ers

Oct 17, 2020 at 1:43 PM--

Defensive end Nick Bosa hit a setback in his development. The reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year suffered a torn ACL during Week 2 against the New York Jets.

Who knows what kind of difference Bosa's presence might have made for the struggling San Francisco 49ers? They probably would have more than just two wins at this point.

Bosa hasn't been the only injury, but his loss may have been the most impactful for the defense. The pass rush hasn't been as effective without the second-year defender. Also missing is veteran Dee Ford, who is out indefinitely with a back injury.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan knows what a good pass rush can do for a defense, and the loss of Bosa has crippled the efforts to frustrate quarterbacks this season. The young pass rusher was a big reason for the unit's success in 2019. Shanahan realizes that having a game-changing defender like Bosa can create a championship-caliber defense, as was the case for the 49ers last season.

The Los Angeles Rams have a player like that in defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who is consistently one of the best defenders in the league. Shanahan and the 49ers will face the six-time Pro Bowl selection, five-time first-team All-Pro, and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year on Sunday night.

"Any time you have a superstar player like that, that's when you have the chance to have a Super Bowl-type defense," Shanahan said this week on KNBR's Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks show. "I do believe that's what Bosa is for us. He was a rookie last year, and I believe he's going to get better each year. We know what he's having to deal with this year, but I saw him in camp, I saw him in Week 1, and Bosa is going to be just like that. I mean, he's that type of player.

"You look to the Broncos when they were winning their Super Bowl; they had that type of player with Von Miller. You look to Chicago, Vic's (Fangio) last year there. I know they missed that field goal, but they had every chance to go to the Super Bowl because of how Khalil Mack was playing.

"And it's not just one (player). You've got to put a good system around those guys. But whenever you have that guy, like the guys I'm mentioning, and you can put a sound scheme behind them, it is a huge deal. And those are the guys who usually get a chance. You go back to Tampa Bay. They had a lot of great players on that team with (John) Lynch and Ronde Barber, but Warren Sapp was what made that go. You take Warren Sapp out of there, and it's not a Super Bowl defense.

"That's how I see all those teams, and when you get a special one like that, you build it around them, and it's going to cover or hide a lot of other problems."

Speaking of John Lynch, the former safety turned general manager feels the same way as the 49ers head coach and referenced his time in Tampa Bay as evidence that one player can impact a defense.

"When you lose a Nick Bosa -- I watch Aaron Donald for the Rams, and it takes me back to what Warren Sapp meant to our defense in Tampa," Lynch said Friday morning on KNBR's Murph & Mac show. "It kind of bums me out because I think, gosh, I was pretty good. And then it go, 'Was I really that good or was I just riding the coattails of Warren Sapp?'

"But the point is a player like that always makes everyone else around them so much better, and I think that's the effect that we saw right away from Nick Bosa. Not to confuse Nick Bosa with Aaron Donald because he hasn't achieved that yet, but I think he has that in him, and in his first year, he was pretty damn good.

"So when you lose a guy like that, it's undeniable you're not going to be the same team. ... But we can still play at a high level defensively. I really, in my heart of hearts, believe that."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Shanahan below.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.

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