No. 3: 49ers EDGE Nick Bosa
Arik Armstead might not be receiving a lot of recognition on defense, and Dee Ford isn’t playing anywhere near the number of snaps to be ranked much higher on this list.
Nevertheless, EDGE Nick Bosa has returned as one of the Niners’ best defensive players and has already been a massive difference-maker for nearly every game played so far, leading the team with three sacks and frequently drawing plenty of pass-blocking attention his way.
Hopefully, that attention will at least open up more chances for players like Armstead and Ford. But the fact Bosa is picking up where he left off in 2019 before his devastating ACL tear early in 2020 is a great sign.
Just behind Armstead, Pro Football Focus has awarded Bosa with a high-quality 84.3 overall grade on the season, also influenced by his six tackles for a loss and eight quarterback hits. He’s making a difference not just in the pass-rush department but also in the run game, too.
Considering the vulnerability of San Francisco’s secondary, it’s been vital for the pass rush to be effective.
So far, at least for the most part, it has been. If it weren’t for players like Bosa, there’s a strong chance the 49ers’ efforts defending the pass this year would be much worse than they appear on paper.