49ers Insider Raises Concern on Nick Bosa’s Paltry Sack Numbers

Nick Bosa, 49ers pass rusher, has just 2.5 sacks on the year.

Getty Nick Bosa, 49ers pass rusher, has just 2.5 sacks on the year.

It was not that long ago, really, that history was made in San Francisco with the biggest payout ever given to a defensive player. But now that the $170 million contract has been granted, the 49ers might every well be wondering where all Nick Bosa’s sacks have gone.

He had 9.0 as a rookie, when he was the Defensive Rookie of the Year, in 2019. He had 15.5 in his third season, after sitting out most of his second year with an injury. Last year, Bosa led the NFL in sacks with 18.5. This year, with his $34 million-per-season contract all signed, Bosa has just 2.5 sacks.

That puts Bosa on pace for 7.1 sacks this season, lowest of his career with the 49ers.

Team beat writer Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle was asked about Bosa’s low sack output in a weekly mailbag, and mentioned that Bosa has been an effective pass rusher even if the sacks have not been there. Branch wondered if the 49ers have not been shortchanged thus far.

“Bosa, via the eye test, hasn’t been as dominant,” Branch wrote. “He has 2.5 sacks and he was unblocked on his two solo sacks, which came against the Giants and Browns.

“Last month, Bosa signed a five-year, $170 million contract, which translates to $34 million a season and $2 million a game. There’s probably no need to worry — a three-sack explosion Monday in Minnesota wouldn’t be a shock — but it’s reasonable to expect even more at those prices.”

Nick Bosa Doing More for 49ers Than Sacks

Now, in his answer, Branch mentioned that there is more to pass rushing than sacks, and that Bosa deserves some credit there. The 49ers are No. 1 in the league in interceptions (10) and No. 3 in the league in yards per pass completion (5.5). They’re only 15th in sacks as a team, in part because opposing quarterbacks are intimidated and seek to get rid of the ball quickly.

Thus, not many sacks but a lot of interceptions and short-yardage plays. That’s a credit to Nick Bosa as well as the whole defensive front.

At Pro Football Focus, they grade out each player individually based on performance on each play, and Bosa’s grade is currently 93.4, which is No. 1 among all edge rushers. It’s also the highest grade of his career, up from the 90.6 he posted last year.

While he is not sacking the quarterback at a prodigious rate, Bosa is knocking down quarterbacks for the 49ers quite frequently. According to Pro Football Reference, Bosa has 11 quarterback knock-downs, which puts him on pace for more than 31, better than his career high of 28 from last season.

John Lynch: Bosa a ‘Special Talent’

Of course, concerns about Nick Bosa’s 49ers sack count are not new. He did not have a sack in the first two games of the season, and there was much hand-wringing then, too. But general manager John Lynch addressed it then, and would say much the same thing now—Bosa is getting to the quarterback, and eventually, that will translate into sacks.

“Your best players are your hardest workers,” Lynch told Greg Papa on NBC Sports Bay Area. ” So Nick, he’s a special talent. Everybody knows that. You just turn on the tape and [you see] the guy was made to play D-line. The way he moves, his hand use, how technical of a player [he is], his athleticism, the ground he gains on his first steps, the quickness with the strength, the power, the speed, he’s got it all.

“Anyone who says he’s not on his game, I mean it’s not always the results, but if you just look at his pressures, his quick win rate, he’s playing at a high level. The sacks are coming. He’s a special player and I’m so thrilled to have him for a long time.”

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