The 49ers’ No. 1 fan has got to be their own tight end, George Kittle. Kittle joined NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” this week where he shared his enthusiasm for a bounce-back 2021 season, specifically on defense.
“I don’t know if you guys saw this but Nick Bosa is coming back and we re-signed Trent Williams. So those guys are pretty good at football from what I remember. They’re pretty decent,” Kittle said.
The 49ers endured an injury-plagued season but their defense still managed to rank fifth in total defense, fourth in passing defense and finish as the seventh-best rushing defense. Kittle expects their numbers to look similar to 2019 with Bosa’s return.
“On the opposite side of Nick Bosa, you’ve got Dee Ford. You’ve got Arik Armstead,” Kittle add. “Now we bring back our All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner and the two young guys outside of him who’ve been learning (and) had a great OTAs. And we bring back five starters in the secondary. Our defense is scary. It was shown in the Super Bowl. If you can’t move the ball against a defense, you can’t put up points. Defense wins championships at the end of the day.”
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Kyle Shanahan Gives Update on Bosa
Bosa’s absence was missed last season as the Niners ended the year with a 6-10 record. He was missed at the Niners OTAs this past month.
Following the conclusion of OTAs, head coach Kyle Shanahan gave an encouraging update on Bosa’s progress.
“Yeah, I mean, he can’t take part in much because he’s still rehabbing,” Shanahan said, via the team’s official website. “But he’s been here all week, and he’s been good. But he came for a shorter visit than expected. He thought he was going to come for two weeks, but I didn’t let him know until I let the whole team know we weren’t doing minicamp.”
Shanahan added that he should be good to go from training camp which kicks off at the end of July.
PFF Ranks Warner & Bosa in Top 5
Both Warner and Bosa have become the anchors to the Niners’ defense over the last two seasons.
Warner finished 2020 with 125 tackles (five for a loss), seven QB hits, two interceptions, and a sack. He also earned his first Pro Bowl nod. Via PFF:
Warner has become arguably the game’s best linebacker, a position that has become ever-more difficult to play given how good NFL offenses have become at attacking defensive weaknesses. The former third-round pick earned a PFF coverage grade of 91.1 in 2020, allowing a passer rating of just 81.9 into his coverage, some 25 points lower than the average at the position
Warner ended his third season giving up an average of 4.4 yards per target and opposing QBs had just a 69.7 average rating when throwing his way.
As for Bosa, his season was cut a bit short due to an ACL tear, thus hindering his 2020 season and spot in the rankings. However, his breakout rookie season kept him not only in the Top 10, but in the Top 5.
We have only seen one year of Nick Bosa in the NFL, with injury robbing us of an encore last season. Still, that one year was devastating. Bosa notched 80 total pressures as a rookie, breaking the PFF rookie record. He was still cooking by the Super Bowl, too, where he notched 12 pressures in a losing effort to try and contain Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Bosa posted 9.0 sacks as a rookie and earned himself Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.