Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

49ers-Lions: Nick Bosa, Dee Ford assess their performance in return from injury

Sep 12, 2021 at 4:25 PM--

High on the list of positives for the San Francisco 49ers in their season-opening 41-33 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday was the performance of pass rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, who were both effective in their first games back from injuries that held them out for most of the 2020 season.

Bosa, who tore his ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 season, had four tackles, one sack, three tackles-for-loss, and two quarterback hits in the win over the Lions. Ford, who was limited to one game in 2020 due to back issues, chipped in a sack of his own and put pressure on Lions quarterback Jared Goff on more than one occasion.

Both players were limited in the preseason, so it was tough to say for sure what they would do over the course of a full game. But it's safe to say the results they had on Sunday were a success.

"It was great," Bosa said after the game. "It's always good to be back on the field with the team and just back in the routine. I love this team, so it's always an honor to play with them."

While Bosa was always expected to be back for the 2021 regular season, Ford's status was a mystery throughout the early portions of this year. But he returned for training camp and drew positive reviews in practice, then his momentum carried over into a solid showing in Week 1.

"I felt pretty confident going into the game," Ford told reporters Sunday. "One thing I wanted to do is be able to start fast. That was my biggest goal heading into this game. So I was able to get some work done really in the first couple of rushes. That's pretty much what you want to do -- the first, second rush kind of sets up the rest of the game."

Bosa didn't always notice what Ford was doing on Sunday, but gave a thumbs-up to what he was able to see.

"I think he played pretty well," Bosa said. "I'm pretty busy when he's on the field so I can't keep an eye on him, but he's always rushing really hard. There's obviously a lot to improve upon, but I think it's a good start for both of us."

Bosa had an intriguing matchup going up against rookie and first-round pick Penei Sewell, who drew the start at left tackle in place of the injured Taylor Decker. Sewell, who was a left tackle in college at the University of Oregon, drew some criticism during the preseason for his performance at right tackle, but he had his share of moments where he held his own with Bosa.

"He's going to be good," Bosa said. "He's more comfortable on the left, and I could tell. The tape I saw on the right -- I told him after the game he's better on the left and he's more comfortable on the left. He's going to be a solid player for sure."

But Bosa was able to work his way into the backfield for a sack late in the game, which was a great way for him to cap off his return.

"That was nice. It was not the best day overall, but to cap it off with that was a good feeling," Bosa said.

Bosa and Ford passed their first test on Sunday, but now they'll need to remain healthy in the weeks ahead, especially now that starting cornerback Jason Verrett appears to be out for an extended period of time. Ford said he's confident the defense will step up and do what needs to be done.

"We've got to come back and just be better, especially knowing we're losing such a great player," Ford said. "The guys will answer the bell. We'll be alright."

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