Dee Ford might be a massive difference maker for San Francisco this season. But the fact his knee injury has largely prevented him from being an every-down player counts against him in this case.
San Francisco 49ers
Instead, it’s the rookie, Nick Bosa, who comes in at No. 1 here.
Bosa has been everything advertised and then some. He’s a mere half sack behind Ford in the totals list there, although Bosa is making up for the “discrepancy” in a number of other ways. For starters, Bosa has been on the field for 187 snaps, compared to Ford’s 118. And the rookie has been far more serviceable against the run, too, acting not solely as a situational pass-rusher.
But what separates the two boils down to a few other things.
Bosa has a whopping nine quarterback hits, far away tops on the team, and his sack totals probably would have been higher had he not been dealing with a bum ankle earlier in the season.
Pro Football Focus awarded Bosa a team-leading 19 quarterback hurries, which is also far outpacing the rest of San Francisco’s defense. That number also puts Bosa at No. 12 in this category among edge rushers, per PFF.
Plus, Bosa literally taking over the game in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns earns some cred. So does his nomination for the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week award from the contest.
There’s more, too. Late in the Browns game, Cleveland began double-teaming Bosa, freeing up San Francisco’s stacked defensive line for more one-on-one matchups. The Rams tried doing the same, too.
Imagining letting players like Ford, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead free for these kinds of situations.
Bosa is having that kind of impact already.