49ers 2021 ‘Who is?’ series: Nick Bosa back better than ever

Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /
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Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Why Nick Bosa improves with 49ers in 2021

After a nine-sack campaign his rookie season, 2020 was supposed to be the year in which Nick Bosa not only competed for a Defensive Player of the Year award, but also a possible MVP nod.

OK, so the latter award essentially only goes towards quarterbacks now, but you get the point. Bosa was supposed to be that kind of impact player.

In short, it’ll be hard for Bosa to do anything but improve after playing in only two games last season. Yet by extrapolating an expected second-year maturation based on his rookie numbers, it’s not hard to see why 2021 could make for a total breakout:

Nick Bosa Defense & Fumbles Table
Game Game Def Def Def Def Fumb Fumb Fumb Tack Tack Tack Tack Tack
Year Age Tm G GS Int Yds Lng PD FF FR Yds Sk Comb Solo Ast TFL QBHits
2019* 22 SFO 16 14 1 46 46 2 1 2 6 9.0 47 32 15 16 25
2020 23 SFO 2 2 1 0 0 0.0 6 3 3 0 1
Care Care 18 16 1 46 46 2 2 2 6 9.0 53 35 18 16 26

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com
Generated 6/7/2021.

Bosa generated those 2019 numbers as a rookie, thanks to a stacked defensive line. The 49ers spent efforts trying to get that back heading into 2021, particularly by reinforcing the depth with defensive tackles Zach Kerr and Maurice Hurst, while also adding a speed EDGE in Samson Ebukam.

True, it won’t be easy to fully replace fellow EDGE Dee Ford, whose back injury suffered last year paralleled Bosa’s absence but also figures to carry into this season, too. Yet the hopeful second-year maturation of the Niners’ top draft pick last year, defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, could potentially free up Bosa to experience the kind of success he enjoyed his rookie season.

And by all accounts, Bosa should be fully ready to go by the time training camp kicks off later this summer.

If so, and with San Francisco’s defense reinforced, look for Bosa to have a truly breakout-kind of impact season.