Home News Nick Bosa on hand at OTAs as 49ers recalibrate defensive line

Nick Bosa on hand at OTAs as 49ers recalibrate defensive line


SANTA CLARA – Nick Bosa lined up at left defensive end and promptly burst into the backfield. Relax, 49ers fans, this is not a salt-in-the-wound rehash of last Super Bowl’s fourth-and-1 play, in which Patrick Mahomes darted past Bosa to keep alive the Kanas City Chiefs’ championship-clinching drive.

It is mid-May, three months removed from that game. The mere sight of Bosa back at work, however, was a pleasant surprise at Tuesday’s organized team activities, which are voluntary and typically bypassed by Bosa.

“You can tell it means something to him,” Purdy said. “It’s pretty special. So for all of us to see that, it’s, ‘Alright, Bosa’s taking it seriously. We all should.’”

Bosa was among the few who stayed late for extra work after the sun-splashed, hour-long session. He is leading the 49ers’ most revamped and arguably most important unit: the defensive line. Their makeover commands scrutiny, and even Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Charles Haley came out to watch them Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the 49ers’ offense is benefitting from Purdy’s first healthy offseason as their starting quarterback. Missing are running back Christian McCaffrey, left tackle Trent Williams, center Jake Brendel (rehabilitating a knee issue), and wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings.

Coach Kyle Shanahan did not show frustration over those absences and did not specify if any of the no-shows besides Aiyuk’s were traced to contract negotiations. Jennings has yet to sign his one-year tender as a restricted free agent.

The offseason’s only mandatory sessions come in the June 4-6 minicamp, followed by a break before the late-July training camp. Bosa, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, wide receiver Deebo Samuel and fullback Kyle Juszczyk are incumbent starters who arrived this week for Phase 3 of the offseason program.

“I love Nick being around, getting a chance to do football with the guys,” Shanahan said.

Five years to the day since Bosa strained his right hamstring in OTAs as a rookie, he looked in regular-season form – and in tremendous shape, as always. His feet did slide out from under him and he hit the grass on one drill, but he quickly popped up and signaled a thumbs-up to coaches.

“I feel really good, it’s been one of my better offseasons,” Bosa said. “It was a long year so I took it nice and slow to get back into it. I’m not as young as I once was so I’m taking it a little slower. But everything is great. I’m feeling as good as I felt.”

Last offseason, Bosa stayed away from the team until three days before the season opener, once he signed the NFL’s richest contract for a defensive player (five years, $170 million).

“Last year was kind of tough getting thrown in Week 1,” Bosa said. “That’s another reason I’m excited to be here, just to get practicing a little bit.”

Bosa added that he came at Shanahan’s suggestion, to help the new unit and the 49ers’ overall rebound from last season’s heartbreaking finish. “With the Super Bowl, unfortunately, I know how to bounce back from tough losses, so it was rough for a little bit but now it’s just annoying when people bring it up,” Bosa said with a closing quip.

He’s stayed away from past years’ OTAs for various reasons: 2020 was the COVID closure, 2021 saw him recovering from knee reconstruction, and the past two years’ were bypassed as he worked out in his native Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

“It’s a little less workload than I’m doing back home, so it’s a good, active recovery for me and I’m getting football work in specifically,” Bosa said. “It’s not compromising my training and I get to meet all the guys. It’s a positive.”

Bosa also spoke favorably of Nick Sorensen’s elevation to defensive coordinator, after Steve Wilks’ one-and-done tenure in place of DeMeco Ryans. “I think he’s going to bring something similar to what we had with DeMeco, and it’ll be good,” Bosa added.

Leonard Floyd, a ninth-year veteran, is the latest pass rusher brought in start on the opposite side of Bosa. The 49ers are banking on them as their marquee pass-rushing combination. At one point in Tuesday’s position drills, Floyd raced through the tackling dummies with grace, then stopped for a technique-analyzing chat with Bosa. Floyd (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) has a lean, long frame that’s already adapted to the 49ers’ twists only a month into the offseason program, Shanahan said.

“He’s a super-skilled rusher, good length, and he’s more athletic than I even realized,” Bosa said.

Another newcomer, Yetur Gross-Matos showed strong promise with his 6-5, 265-pound body that resembled the versatile frames of past 49ers’ Charles Omenihu and Arden Key. “We have a lot of new faces this year, so I’m helping the new guys out,” Bosa added. “A bunch of good dudes.”

Missing from Tuesday’s drills were defensive end Drake Jackson (due to a health issue, Shanahan said) and probable starting defensive tackle Maliek Collins (family matters). Rob Beal lined up with Gross-Matos as the second-string defensive ends, followed by Alex Barrett and Raymond Johnson III on the third unit. Defensive ends Clelin Ferrell, Chase Young and Randy Gregory departed this offseason. .

Gone from the interior are Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw, so the 49ers must sift through options including Jordan Elliott, Kevin Givens, Kalia Davis, T.Y. McGill, Shakel Brown and Evan Anderson.

No matter who the defensive lineman is, none are allowed to touch Purdy, and Bosa demonstrated that restraint to all, while later singing Purdy’s praises.

“He’s definitely getting a little more vocal within the building,” Bosa said. “I don’t think he’s ever going to change, even when he gets paid next year. He’s a man of faith. He kind of reminds me of Scottie Scheffler, except he didn’t get arrested. He’s just super humble and a really good kid. Yeah, he’s definitely famous.”

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