“I’m not here to sit and pound the table for Nick but obviously just don’t look like the same team without him,” Balding said during his appearance on 95.7 The Game on Tuesday, September 5. “They went and paid Trent Williams, the highest paid left tackle. They paid Fred Warner] — he was the highest-paid linebacker a brief little moment there.”
“They paid [George] Kittle — he was the highest paid there until [Travis] Kelce beat him out. Just look – Christian McCaffrey is the highest-paid running back by a wide margin. They have agreed that when you’re a great player in this organization, they pay you and they take care of you,” Baldinger added.
Bosa enters the final year of his four-year, $33.5 million deal, and he will become a free agent in 2024 if the 49ers don’t re-sign him. Spotrac projects him to command $28.6 million annually in the free agent market, which would make him the highest-paid edge rusher in the league.
“I’m sure Nick is sitting back and going, ‘I’ve just seen all these guys get paid. I just won Defensive Player of the Year Award, we’re the No. 1 defense in football.’ At some point you just go, ‘What’s the fight over?’ I don’t know. Is it only Aaron Donald money, is that what’s holding it back? Is that much different than T.J. Watt money? We know it’s pretty easy to slot him. I just don’t think it should be that difficult right now,” Baldinger said.
The 49ers have four days left until the season opener on September 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which narrows the chances of Bosa playing in Week 1.
Nick Bosa’s Absence Will Hurt on Sunday and Beyond, Brian Baldinger Says
If the 49ers play without Bosa on September 10, the defense will try to avoid a 10th loss since 2020 when Bosa doesn’t play. The 49ers have a 5-10 record overall without Bosa since his rookie year in 2020.
“I think it’s just a whole lot easier to operate your offense when Nick is not in there,” Baldinger said on 95.7 The Game. “You’re not as concerned with the variety of protections you’re gonna have, whether it’s the chips, the tight ends, the slides – all the different ways you try to combat him. Maybe Drake Jackson breaks out and he can do it, but nobody is gonna be better with Nick Bosa not in there.”
“We believe that Javon Hargrave is gonna be a factor. We believe Arik Armstead is gonna be a factor, but Nick makes everybody on that group and at linebacker who lines up behind him — he makes ‘em all better,” Baldinger added.
49ers Could Still Expose Steelers’ Weaknesses: Analyst
All might not be lost on the 49ers defensive front without Bosa. The Steelers had the 23rd-ranked offense last season, and the team returns second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett.
“Bosa is a massive piece, but they also signed Javon Hargrave,” ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky said on “NFL Life” on Tuesday. “And I think like if you’re the Pittsburgh Steelers, the game is gonna come down to how you handle the interior of the pass rush, the right guard, center, and left guard.”
“If they can’t at least handle in some capacity those two interior rush guys, this is gonna be a long afternoon for Kenny Pickett,” Orlovsky added.