The San Francisco 49ers hit a home run with their top pick in the 2019, EDGE Nick Bosa, who put in one of the best rookie seasons the team has seen in a long time. But just how good?
The San Francisco 49ers might be a bit hesitant to send the Arizona Cardinals a thank-you card for electing to take quarterback Kyler Murray first in the 2019 NFL Draft, especially if Murray turns into a crazy-good weapon the Niners end up having to face twice a year within the NFC West.
But at least San Francisco can think about sending its thanks, because it ultimately led to the team being able to take EDGE Nick Bosa at No. 2 overall.
Bosa’s efforts his rookie season were exemplary. He finished the year with nine sacks, which ranked second on the 49ers defense, also picked up 47 tackles, 16 of which were for a loss, forced a fumble, recovered two and even managed an interception in year one of his budding pro career.
So, just how good was Bosa when lined up with the remaining cast of 2019 rookies?
According to NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, he was No. 1 overall in the draft class:
"Bosa didn’t post the same game-wrecking numbers in the second half of the season as he did during the first half, but he was still a dominant force every single week."
Jeremiah is spot on with his analysis. True, Bosa’s sack production was almost entirely weighted towards the first half, where he picked up seven of his nine sacks between Weeks 1 through 8. But his ability to blow up plays and wreak havoc up front continued into the second half.
To no one’s surprise, Bosa landed on Pro Football Focus‘ 2019 All Rookie Team, and what PFF had to say about Bosa sums up just how much a factor he was for a resurgent 49ers defense:
"You just don’t see rookies edge defenders come into the NFL and have the kind of impact that Bosa has this season, and it’s why he was named PFF’s Defensive Rookie of the Year. His 80 total pressures as a rookie were 14 more than any rookie edge defender has recorded in a single season since the start of the PFF era back in 2006. The havoc that he created in opposing backfields all year landed him an 86.7 overall grade that was nearly identical to the 86.6 overall grade posted by his brother, Joey Bosa, back in his rookie season of 2016."
PFF’s Neil Hornsby also pointed out an interesting caveat about Bosa’s pass-rush production during the season, including the amount of double teams the rookie was facing throughout the year:
That’s pretty incredible. Bosa’s 21.5 percent win rate against double teams was best among rookie pass-rushers and right in line with some of the more elite pass-rushers the league boasts.
One can figure the high number of double teams Bosa faced was primarily due to the 49ers missing fellow EDGE Dee Ford, who was out for extended periods of time with both quad and hamstring injuries.
And while Ford’s absence in the second half ultimately hurt Bosa’s sack production, it didn’t prevent the rookie from providing a serious impact.
Ford is expected back during the Niners playoff run, too, only serving to push Bosa’s potency.
There are going to be other names tossed around in the voting for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, yes. But Bosa is the bona fide No. 1 choice here, and he very well could be a unanimous decision for the accolade.
Meanwhile, all the 49ers want is for Bosa to continue the same sort of prowess during the team’s run into the postseason.