Why Nick Bosa is the 49ers most important defensive player

Football is the ultimate team game. It takes all eleven players on the field to do their job correctly for a play to be successful. While this is true, having great players can help open opportunities by creating favorable matchups. The effect of great players shows up in all aspects of the game, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

None of what you just read is meant to be breaking news, and there are numerous examples of great players helping make others better throughout 49ers history. All one needs to do is look at players such as Ronnie Lott, Bryant Young, Deion Sanders, and most recently, Nick Bosa.

The 1994 defense was solid, but the addition of Sanders played a large part in San Francisco finally getting past Dallas. Having Sanders on the field allowed the 49ers to focus its coverage on other areas of the field and, in turn, helped the pass rush get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

We’ve seen the addition of Nick Bosa in 2019 have a similar effect.

In Bosa’s rookie season, the 49ers pass rush took down opposing quarterbacks 48 times, an increase from only 37 the season prior. They matched that total last season. With Bosa on the sideline in 2020 for most of the season, San Francisco struggled to generate pressure, recording only 30 sacks.

Having Bosa on the field helps to free up the other linemen to make plays. For example, one defensive lineman benefitting from the attention given to Bosa is Arik Armstead. The former first-round pick struggled to reach the quarterback early in his career, recording nine sacks in his first four seasons. In 2019, Armstead broke out, posting a career-high ten sacks in the regular season and earning a five-year, $85 million contract extension.

With Bosa on the sidelines due to injury in 2020, Armstead saw his sack total drop back down to 3.5. Of Armstead’s 28.5 career sacks in his seven-year career, 16 have come during the two seasons he played alongside Bosa.

It should also be noted that moving inside has helped Armstead as well. He has the ability to get skinny and take advantage of interior offensive linemen with his strength and speed.

With Bosa on the field and Armstead rushing from the inside, opposing offenses often cannot help with the other defensive linemen, providing San Francisco’s other pass rushers one-on-one matchups.

Last season this helped Arden Key put together a career season. After coming into 2021 with only three sacks during his first three NFL seasons, Key racked up 6.5 last year to earn a new contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency this offseason. It also helped free-agent acquisition Samson Ebukam match his career-high of 4.5 sacks while rushing off the edge.

During a Tuesday interview on The Jim Rome Show, Armstead was asked how he would describe his on-field chemistry with Bosa and how each player makes the other’s job easier.

“Me and Nick have a great chemistry. Obviously, playing with great players helps you. I think me and Nick go out there and try to dominate together for sure.

“Also, I don’t think people realize that when both of us are out there we have to strategically come up with ways to beat three and four blockers at times. You know, they’re sending chips, sending slides to us and all of these things and we need to put our heads together and come up with ways to defeat it.

“We are both talented players, but we also take the mental approach very important too. Preparing for the games and what teams are going to throw at us is very important as well.”

Armstead’s statement is correct; both are talented players who are critical pieces of the 49ers pass rush. However, Nick Bosa is the key that makes everything run.

This article has 21 Comments

  1. No doubt, Nick Bosa is the key that makes everything work. He’s the Alpha dog in the 9ers QB hunt! Also true is, in 2019 Arik Armstead broke out, posting a career-high ten sacks. With Bosa on the field and Armstead rushing from the inside, opposing offenses can’t help with the other defensive linemen and this provides the other 9er pass rushers one-on-one matchups, making them one of the better D lines in the NFL.
    Add a healthy Javon Kinlaw and Samson Ebukam, who began to break out late last season, and we now have a D line that’s not just one of the better D lines in the NFL, but may be the best in the NFL.

  2. All good, and solid points..now, if the defensive backfield can gel as a unit, play as we think they can, not only will sack numbers increase, but int’s will increase as well..and with that comes wins….which is what it’s all about

  3. All good, and solid points..now, if the defensive backfield can gel as a unit, play as we think they can, not only will sack numbers increase, but int’s will increase as well..and with that comes wins….which is what it’s all about

    1. 55:
      * “now, if the defensive backfield can gel as a unit, play as we think they can.”

      * Starting with the 9ers Linebackers: Warner, Greenlaw and Greenlaw. As a unit, If they’re not the best in the NFL, they’re one of the best.
      * Safety: Ward is one of the better FS in the NFL, leaving SS to be filled by either Tarvarius Moore, or 2nd year player, Talanoa Hufanga. Prior to his Achilles injury last season, Moore’s 40 time was 4.32s. If he has recovered, IMO, his speed and experience, will make him the starting SS over Hufanga. Hufanga ran a 4.64 at his USC pro day. IMO, Hufanga will get playing time and his day will come, but not this year.
      * CB is set with FA acquisition Charvarius Ward, e-man and backup Verrett. Also, the 2 young CB pushing for playing time in Lenoir and Thomas. Again, as a unit, one of the better units in the NFL.
      * That leaves the question who will start at the NB position? Darqueze Dennard or Samuel Womack III? TBD
      * D Line: The only questions about the 9ers D line are, A) How good will Javon Kinlaw be, and B) How much impact will rookie Drake Jackson, have this season? And worst case…..C) If both under perform, how much will Omenihu, Turay, Hyder and Hust contribute? If both Kinlaw and Jackson play up to their potential this Defense could be as good as the 9ers 2019 defense and good enough to carry the 9ers to the SB, “IF,” IF the IOL protects Lance, gives him the time to find his receivers, and opens running lanes for the RB. IMO, the success or failure of IOL, will determine how far the 9ers go this season!

  4. In my opinion, Nick Bosa is more important than Deebo Samuels. 49ers should sign Bosa first and then work on the deal for Deebo.

  5. 1.6
    * “Nick Bosa is more important than Deebo Samuels.”

    * an interesting assessment 1.6, one I agree with. An argument many 9er arm chair experts I know have made!
    * My question to them is, can the 9ers get to the playoffs without Deebo? Yes, IMO they can. But they’d likely lose the wildcard game.
    * Can the 9ers get to the playoffs without Bosa? No, IMO they can’t, for the reason Jack stated! “Having Bosa on the field helps to free up the other linemen to make plays.”
    * With both Bosa and Deebo, IMO the 9ers could win the SB.

    1. I’m a huge Deebo fan. His unique skill set is unmatched in the NFL. The offenses prowess is only limited by the creativity of the coach. Having said that, Deebo’s offseason act of Me First/Team Last when he’s under contract has been a huge turn off for me. Still doesn’t change my assessment of level of importance. Shanahan has proven he can have a winning offense without Deebo. He hasn’t proven he can have a winning team without Bosa.

  6. Agree completely. It takes a team, but Bosa makes everyone else’s job easier. Hopefully, they can find his bookend to help make his job easier. Great read. Thank you!

    1. Two things that remain burnt into my memory about “The King” besides his on the field greatness: 1. They say he took a pay cut to play with the 49ers as the University of Washington was a little more loose with a buck than the Morabito brothers and 2. was an interview with Gary Lewis not long after Dick Nolan became head coach. The 49ers struggled at first when Nolan took over and the conventional wisdom was that Nolan was installing the Cowboys systems which were thought to be very complex. After a loss, the King asked Lewis what was the problem and Lewis immediately started to talk about the complexity of the new system and Hugh interrupted saying basically what the heck is this stuff about complexity when you guys are just not blocking and tackling – there’s nothing complex about that. It took a week for me to stop laughing. When he was doing color on the broadcasts Hugh “the King” said what he meant and meant what he said . You don’t get bettor “color” than that.


    George Kittle Guesses Deebo Samuel, 49ers Agree to New Contract ‘In Three Weeks’
    “Something crazy could happen. I could be eating my words in two weeks. But the Niners have done every major contract—mine, Fred Warner’s—the week before the season started. So, my guess is in three weeks we’ll hear news of it, but I have no idea,” Kittle said, via Logan Mullen of 95.7 The Game.

  8. 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo Reportedly Will Be Cleared To Throw Soon!

    QUESTION: How much of JG’s salary will the 9ers have to pick up, before another team will trade for him?
    A) $ 0 The 9ers will cut him before the Bears game.
    B) $1 – $3 Mil
    C) $4 – $6 Mil
    D) $7- $9 Mil
    E) >$10 Mil

    1. Geep you forgot another option

      F) $ 0 The team trading for him will absorb his full contract.

      That might be a buffoons take and the most unlikely, but still a possibility.

      1. Rib
        Yes, your correct….But as you say, “that might be a buffoons take,” and why I didn’t include it.
        But if by some MIRACLE It happens… Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth JL….lol

        Correct me if I’m wrong Rib, but Other than the Panthers and Browns (If Watson gets one year suspension without pay), Who can afford JG’s $25 Mil salary?

  9. RE JG will be cleared to throw soon……I believe Giardi is reporting from JG’s camp, NOT the 9ers camp!
    1 Cleveland Browns: (cap space top 51) $41,268,365
    2 Carolina Panthers: (cap space top 51) $24,563,588
    NOTE: Panters would cut a player to meet JG’s $25 Mil salary

    Jack: Could you confirm these are the latest cap numbers? for the Browns and Panthers?

    1. Just curious if somehow JG has a veto over where he is traded. Not sure he would want to go to the Browns or Panthers to be a place holder for Watson and Corral. On the other hand, if he doesn’t accept a trade in order to position himself to be cut so he could sign anywhere – no way in the world would he be able to get the amount he’s currently guaranteed in his contract. From a football perspective, the Browns job is much more attractive. A good QB added to that roster could make them dangerous. Panthers are destined to be terrible for at least the next 2 years.

  10. 1.6
    Unless something in JG’s contract has changed, this is still true.

    * How Jimmy Garoppolo No Longer Has Leverage With No-Trade Clause…..
    * Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had leverage in 2021 to veto any proposed trade from the 49ers. But Garoppolo has no such power to control where he might end up in 2022, documents NBC Sports Bay Area obtained Monday through a league source confirmed.
    * Garoppolo’s no-trade clause was only applicable for the 2021 league year. Under terms of the contract, beginning on March 16 at 1 p.m. (PT), the 49ers can trade Garoppolo to any team without his prior written approval. An agreement of a trade can be reached prior to that date.

    1. Ok, so the 49ers can trade him anywhere. Curious if they will send him somewhere he doesn’t want to go. Feels like Lynch is a guy who wants to do right by players. If they are looking at negligible draft capital then I wonder if they would just release him if Jimmy would rather be released than go to Cleveland or Charlotte.

      1. 1.6
        If I had to guess, I believe JL / the Yorks, will release JG…..UNLESS, the 9ers can get draft pick(s) for him?
        I agree, JL is “a guy who wants to do right by players.” But business is business! JL’s loyalty is to the Yorks, who pay his salary. Not a player, no matter how popular JG is?
        If the 9ers do release JG, the question then is when? Do they wait until just before the season starts? If they do, what salary would they offer him? He won’t know their system, or playbook, so what value would he offer another team?
        49ers plan to let Jimmy Garoppolo negotiate contract with other teams, so it’s all TBD….

  11. If Deshaun Watson’s suspension lasts into 2023, how does it change the calculus for Cleveland?

    * On Tuesday, Deshaun Watson will appear before NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, a former federal judge, to sort out a league response, if any, to over two dozen accusations of sexual misconduct involving massage therapists Watson hired.
    * The Wall Street Journal on Saturday reported that the NFL is seeking an “indefinite suspension” that would sit Watson for “no shorter than one year.” Numerous other media outlets have confirmed that thinking, a sign that the league wants it publicly known how seriously it wants to punish Watson.

  12. If Deshaun Watson is suspended for the full year, who’ll play quarterback for the Browns?

    Some have suggested that the Browns should trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. That will be far easier said than done. Garoppolo is due to make $25 million this year. The Browns already have surrendered significant assets for Watson. It would be difficult for the Browns to give up more picks for the privilege of paying Garoppolo $25 million.
    A three-way trade could make sense, with the Browns sending Baker Mayfield to the Panthers, the Panthers sending a draft pick or two to the 49ers, and the 49ers sending Garoppolo to Cleveland. But the question of paying Mayfield’s $18.8 million guaranteed salary continues to complicate any such conversations.

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