Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Why Kyle Shanahan says 49ers’ Nick Bosa should be in the conversation for NFL awards

Dec 18, 2021 at 3:31 PM--

Nick Bosa has 14 sacks this season. He has his eyes set on owning the San Francisco 49ers single-season sack record of 19.5, set by Aldon Smith in 2012. It will take reaching opposing quarterbacks six more times to do so. That's a lot to ask of a player with just four games remaining. However, Bosa had six sacks in the past four games, so matching that feat will get him to his goal.

It's not just the sacks that make Bosa great, though. That's why his head coach feels the third-year pass rusher should at least be in the conversation for some highly-coveted NFL awards.

"I think he's underrated," Kyle Shanahan said during his weekly sit-down with NBC Sports Bay Area. "When I hear people just talk about him as Comeback Player of the Year, I don't get why he's not mentioned for NFL MVP."

Shanahan probably meant NFL Defensive Player of the Year there. Either way, it just shows how much Bosa means to the 49ers defense. Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt are the betting favorites, per DraftKings. Oddsmakers rank Bosa seventh for the annual honor.

As Bosa closes in on the team's sack record, remember that he is coming off an ACL injury. The defender may be even better than he was before the knee injury that ended his 2020 campaign in Week 2.

"It's probably one of the most impressive things I've seen from a player," defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans said this week, per Kirk Larrabee. "It's a credit for him for the way he works, the way he practices. He practices hard. Football is important to him, and it shows. There's no reason why Nick shouldn't have some attention for Defensive Player of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year."

Quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Joe Burrow are the favorites for Comeback Player of the Year. Unfortunately, Bosa may not have a shot at that award, which frustrates at least one teammate.

"I don't know how he's not Comeback Player of the Year," Kittle said this week. "I don't know how many sacks he has, but I know it's a lot. He just does it every single week. If you don't put two people on him minimum, he's going to sack the quarterback. He's so fast, he's so fluid, so dang strong."

Bosa feels like he's just ramping up for a strong finish to the season. However, reaching 20 sacks might be a way to get everyone's attention and prove that he should be in some of these award conversations.

"Yeah, I'd like that [record]," Bosa told reporters on Thursday. "Definitely would love to have my name on there for this organization. But also, I'm just trying to take it one day at a time."

With names like Garrett, Watt, and even Aaron Donald in the conversation for the defensive MVP, it's easy to overlook Bosa and his impact on the 49ers.

"Aaron Donald dominates pretty good, but there's only a couple of guys that I can mention in that category," Shanahan continued. "And Bosa, whether it's practice, whether it's games, I don't think he gets enough credit for what he does on everything besides those 14 plays.

"Every play in the run game, the pass game, he is always getting to the quarterback, getting to the ball carrier. He is one of the smartest players I've been around, and so technically sound, and plays every play very well."

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