Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Watch out NFL: Kyle Shanahan says 49ers’ Nick Bosa is ‘getting better each week’

Nov 23, 2021 at 11:35 AM--

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa racked up nine sacks during his NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign in 2019. He has already surpassed that mark through 10 games this season. Bosa's 10 sacks are tied for the fifth-most in the NFL. Imagine the number he could have amassed if he wasn't being held so often by blockers doing whatever they can to prevent the dominating defender from getting to their quarterbacks. On Sunday, you saw it with Jacksonville's Jawaan Taylor holding onto Bosa, who still managed to reach rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

"The reason why [he's being held so often] is he's so good and so fast at taking that inside move," former 49ers tackle Joe Staley said on KNBR this week. "A lot of times, offensive linemen try to get on players quickly and try to use their size and their quickness.

"I think Jawaan Taylor is one of the more athletic tackles, so he was trying to do that against Nick. But Nick is so good at transitioning immediately to that inside move that, as an offensive lineman, your inside hand is trailing. So, just reactionary, you just kind of catch him.

"And then what Nick does a great job [of] too, and a lot of defensive ends do this, when they get that, and they feel it, they trap it. And they trap it with their outside hand against the body, and it's hard to get it off. And then you're just kind of stuck there. And he's powerful enough to get vertical while doing it at the same time."

Bosa believes the officials are finally starting to see the opposition handicap the pass rusher. Maybe that means some of the jersey grabs and chokeholds will finally result in more flags being thrown.

"I actually got a couple of calls this past game, so I'm not going to complain anymore," Bosa said Tuesday morning on KNBR's Murph & Mac show. "... Honestly, I don't realize it's happening too much, in the heat of battle. Sometimes I do, if it's like a jersey grab or something. But the chokeholds? I don't know. I guess I'm just used to being held so much that all I think about is fighting my way to the quarterback."

Bosa was hoping to show off his development in his sophomore season, but his 2020 campaign was cut short by an ACL injury. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will likely keep Bosa from being considered for Comeback Player of the Year honors. Still, the young pass rusher's return from such a devastating injury is no less impressive.

"Bosa is a special player, and he's just as valuable this year as he was his rookie year," head coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday. "He was the difference for us in 2019, and we missed him greatly last year. And you guys can see why again this year."

Bosa may be even better than he was pre-injury. The defensive end never doubted that would be the case.

"In the beginning of the year, I was talking to him," Staley said. "And he was telling me, I'm like, 'Hey, how are you feeling? Are you back to where you were?' And he's like, 'No, I'm better than what I was.' And I was like, 'Alright, yeah, that's good confidence.'

"But he really is, especially the last probably five or six weeks. He's playing the run really well. He's rushing the passer. I think he's the only guy in the NFL right now with 10 sacks and 15 TFLs (tackles for a loss). He's playing top-notch football."

In addition to that, Bosa has 34 tackles, a pass defensed, and two forced fumbles, per Pro Football Reference. Even scarier for opposing blockers is that Bosa feels the sacks will come even easier as the season progresses.

"I think I'm starting to get the hang of just how to really get sacks, get numbers," Bosa said on Sunday. "My rookie year, I was just out there rushing, trying to win every time. It worked well, but now I'm really getting the hang of how the sack leaders in the league do it. They go out there with a plan and know when their opportunities are going to come, and they're ready for it."

Shanahan is glad to have his talented pass rusher back and better than ever, especially after seeing the pass rush struggle last season without him. The coach can see Bosa's improvement with each passing game.

"I think he's getting better each week," Shanahan added. "And I think he's playing his best ball right now of the year."

Bosa isn't content with putting up impressive numbers, though. He has his sights set on the big picture. After struggling earlier in the season, the 49ers are winners of three of their last four.

"Well, we're 5-5, and we've got the Vikings [this weekend]," Bosa said on KNBR. "That's definitely a big game for the playoff picture. And I think all our dreams are still alive this year, so I'm excited."

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