Why is 49ers' Nick Bosa off to such a slow start in 2023?

Drake Jackson still has more sacks this season than Nick Bosa.

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

At least in the sack department, Nick Bosa has looked like a shadow of himself in contrast to his All-Pro and DPOY campaign of a year ago.

Raise your hand if you thought San Francisco 49ers edge Nick Bosa, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, would have less than three sacks a mere game before the halfway point of the 2023 season.

Probably none of you.

But that's the case. Bosa, who sat out during training camp and the preseason amid a contract dispute, nevertheless took the field in Week 1 after getting that record-setting deal and appeared to be in tip-top shape.

However, the "sackaroonies," as he so calls them, haven't come in droves as fans would expect. And as the front office would expect as justification of the biggest non-quarterback contract in NFL history.

Through seven games, Bosa is at just 2.5 sacks. Why?

Nick Bosa admits holdout played a negative role in his production

While there's a football philosophical discussion about whether or not Bosa is regressing because of a lack of sacks, pointing out the lack of sacks is perhaps the easiest way to wrap one's head around his level of impact.

Sure, Bosa is still impacting plays by forcing earlier throws from quarterbacks, oftentimes errant ones, and opposing teams have to scheme against him, too, which causes other ripple effects that benefit the Niners.

Still, the sacks aren't there. And Bosa recently said that not attending training camp played a bit of a role.

"I think a little bit," Bosa responded when asked whether missing camp has impacted his play. "I think I’m trying to work on stuff on the run this year that I wasn’t able to do in camp. So, those games that I mentioned, the two, I think I was thinking too much because I was trying to add something to my rush plan which is not what I want to be doing during the season.

"I want to be locked in on what I do best and just doing it throughout the whole year. But there’s no excuse at this point for that."

Bosa already has 17 quarterback hits, which is on pace to eclipse the 32 he had during his Pro Bowl 2021 campaign and not too far off the split for the mark of his career-high 48 from a season ago.

But the sacks just aren't coming. Given he missed camp, it'll inevitably raise questions whether or not holding out was a good move, at least from the production standpoint.

Kyle Shanahan says Nick Bosa's lack of sacks isn't a problem for 49ers

Speaking to reporters a couple of days after San Francisco's Monday Night Football loss to the Minnesota Vikings in which Bosa and the 49ers defensive line underwhelmed, head coach Kyle Shanahan opted not to call out the All-Pro for the lack of production.

Instead, the head coach clarified why the numbers simply aren't there.

"I don’t see anything different," Shanahan said of Bosa. "I know the results haven’t been there. He’s got a couple opportunities missed, he’s got a couple opportunities that should have been an easy sack on and we left No. 1 [receiver] open too fast where he shouldn’t have been.

"So I just feel like the way it’s panned out between rush and coverage and just all 11 together they haven’t been tied together to me when they have done it. When Bosa beats someone, there’s got to be nowhere to go with the ball, and they’ve been able to do that whether it’s a miss or whatever it is."

Related story: Kyle Shanahan calls out Steve Wilks, is 49ers DC on the hot seat?

Bosa probably isn't going to come close to matching his league-leading 18.5-sack campaign from a year ago, but the potential for him to take over a game with multiple sacks is still very much there.

It just hasn't been thus far, but likely all would be forgiven if he caught a hot streak over the second half of 2023.

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