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Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Notebook: Team thrilled to have Nick Bosa back; Brock Purdy reacts to being named captain; Colton McKivitz’s tall task

Sep 7, 2023 at 8:56 PM--

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Nick Bosa was not among those to have spoken to reporters when the 49ers held their media sessions on Thursday, but he was still a popular topic of conversation nonetheless.

Bosa has often been among those to speak to reporters on Thursdays in the past, but he wasn't available this time around after just ending his holdout the day before. Those who did speak Thursday unsurprisingly expressed excitement over Bosa's return.

"I was fired up," running back Christian McCaffrey said. "I think everybody was fired up."

McCaffrey, quarterback Brock Purdy, tight end George Kittle, and left tackle Trent Williams were among the 49ers players to talk to reporters Thursday, while defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and offensive line coach/run game coordinator Chris Foerster held their weekly press conferences as well. Here's a rundown of what they said about Bosa and much more.

Happy to have him back

The 49ers didn't feel complete before Bosa came to terms on his new five-year, $170 million contract extension on Wednesday, but now that he's back in the fold, the team will be at full strength when they open the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. The 49ers were thrilled to see the reigning Defensive Player of the Year back in uniform, but perhaps no one was as relieved as Wilks, who is now able to factor Bosa into his game plan this week.

"Everybody's excited that he's back in the building," Wilks said. "Coaches, players, you saw the energy that we had on Monday when we came in and just magnified when he got here. So once again, excited that he's back and looking forward to him being on the field."

Bosa's $34 million per-year average is the highest on the 49ers by far. Next in line are wide receiver Deebo Samuel ($23.85 million) and Williams, who made light of Bosa's hefty new contract on Tuesday.

"We can't wait to welcome him with open arms," Williams said, per NBC Sports Bay Area. "Arms might have to be a little wider cause he got bigger pockets now but you know, we're definitely going to welcome him back with open arms."

Kittle also expressed his enthusiasm over Bosa's return, in his own unique way.

"You know what, I think we're significantly more intimidating when his quads and biceps are on the roster," Kittle said.

The only one who didn't seem to see much of a change around team facilities is Foerster, who thinks the players were already sufficiently amped up before Bosa returned to town.

"I really haven't noticed it," Foerster said. "It was great energy all week actually. The guys have been really ready to go and have had a great couple days of practice and I really didn't notice it, but I'm glad he's back."

It remains to be seen how many snaps Bosa will see Sunday after missing the entirety of training camp and the preseason. But he'll undoubtedly be on the field, and the 49ers will decide the rest as the game goes along.

"It's hard to say," Wilks said. "I think each player's different, and I say that in a meaningful way, he's different. So it is not really trying to put a limit on what he can do, it's just trying to get a feel and once we get into the game and then go from there."

He's the captain now

Purdy was announced as one of six 49ers team captains Wednesday, along with Kittle, Williams, Samuel, linebacker Fred Warner, and defensive lineman Arik Armstead. The news came as a surprise to Purdy, who clearly won the respect of his teammates after taking over the starting quarterback job last season.

"I'm very honored to be able to be voted by my teammates and peers, be able to be a captain on the team, and that my teammates think that way of me," Purdy said. "So, I'm very honored by it and it means a lot to me."

While Purdy may have been surprised at the news, McCaffrey wasn't. McCaffrey said Thursday he hasn't been surprised by much he's seen from Purdy, whether it was his quick recovery from offseason elbow surgery or his teammates selecting him as a captain.

"I'm not surprised at all. To me, he's a hell of a player, a hell of leader, and a guy who's going to be great in this league for a long time," McCaffrey said.

Purdy's focus has been on Sunday's game against the Steelers, which will be his first season opener as an NFL starter. Being able to take the field as a captain will be a nice bonus.

"I mean, I wasn't really thinking about it," Purdy said. "I've just been trying to get better every day, come to practice trying to push the guys around me, and be ready for Week One. And that's really just where my mindset has been. So, when we came in for a meeting and we had voted about stuff, I was like, 'Shoot, I sort of forgot about voting for captains and all that kind of stuff,' and then once we came back a couple of days later and saw my name on the board, I was like, 'Wow, what an honor'."

Friendly reunion

Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett is in a similar position to Purdy in that he became a starter as a rookie last season and is now a team captain. Purdy got the chance to meet Pickett during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine and is looking forward to seeing him again on Sunday.

"He was a great guy," Purdy said. "Everyone loved being around him. I loved being around him. You know, obviously, we haven't really hung out or anything much outside of that but got to meet him a little bit there and he's a great guy."

Pickett, who was the first quarterback taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, seems to feel the same about Purdy.

"We got to talk a little bit," Pickett said this week, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "Brock's a great guy (who is) having a ton of success. Happy for him. Definitely looking forward to opening up the season against him."

Key matchup

One 49ers player to keep an eye on Sunday is Colton McKivitz, who will be making his first start since taking over the right tackle spot after Mike McGlinchey departed in free agency. McKivitz could have his hands full Sunday dealing with players such as T.J. Watt.

"Like any other guy would be, you get a lump in your throat," Foerster said of McKivitz. "You know it's going to be a challenge, it's going to be a full day of work."

Now in his fourth season after joining the 49ers as a fifth-round draft pick in 2020, McKivitz will be making his sixth NFL start when he takes the field Sunday. It won't be the first time McKivitz has had to face an elite pass rusher, however. McKivitz was called upon to start a pivotal Week 17 game against the Rams in 2021, during which he had to face a future hall of famer in Von Miller. That experience, along with the talent he faces in practice every day, gives McKivitz some preparation for what he'll see Sunday.

"The good thing for Colton is, Colton has played that Week 17 game against Von Miller," Foerster said. "And yeah, there were some not-so-good plays, but there were some really good plays down the stretch as well. And he has had some meaningful reps for us over the first part of his career. So, while it's going to be a challenge as a starter, and I know it's a great player on defense and we give him all props, and Colton obviously I'm sure is going to feel it, I'm going to feel it for him if he's not feeling it. But I know we prepare for things like this and we go against really good players in practice all the time."

Kittle is confident McKivitz will do just fine against a talented Steelers pass rush.

"I know he's going to play at a high level," Kittle said. "I thought he had a good training camp. Every time I got a rep next to him in the last couple of years when he got subbing for someone that was hutt, I thought he did an excellent job. He communicates well with me, which is what I care about because communication is key on the opposite line.

"So I'm excited about that. I don't think we're going to leave him one-on-one every single play. Not going to give you all of our game plan, but we're going to help him out as much as we can. But I don't have concern. I think Colton's going to do a great job."

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