By any measure, Nick Bosa had a sensational 2019.
The 49ers defensive end played all 16 regular-season games and had nine sacks, 45 pressures, 25 quarterback hits and 47 combined tackles on his way to being selected as the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.
At just 22 years of age – he won’t turn 23 until late October – there’s every reason to believe Bosa will only get much better.
Bosa’s former head coach at Ohio State, Urban Meyer, says Bosa’ combination of quickness, speed and strength allows him to either bull-rush or speed-rush opponents to get to the quarterback. But, says Meyer, it’s Bosa’s drive to get better and win every snap in every game that sets him apart.
“Nick Bosa, he is very gifted,” Meyer said in a recent interview, when asked about Bosa and two other ex-Ohio State standouts, Chase Young, a recent draft pick of Washington, and current Charger Joey Bosa (Nick’s older brother). “But one of the things that makes Nick Bosa Nick Bosa, you’d have to shoot him to stop him. He’s a guy that will not stop. Out of the three, Joey, Nick and Chase -- I loved all three of them -- Nick Bosa, you have to really shoot that guy to stop him. That’s what makes him great.”
Another indication Nick Bosa is likely to be much better in Year 2 and beyond, is that he raised his level of play in his first postseason.
Over three postseason games as a rookie, he was in on 15 tackles, had four sacks and five quarterback hits and provided constant pressure.
Jeff Deeney of the analytic website Pro Football Focus this week wrote that Bosa’s performance actually improved in the playoffs, when opponents were better and the pressure was greater.
Deeney wrote Bosa’s overall pressure rate as a pass rusher was 18.1 percent when his postseason games were included with his regular-season totals. That was 102 pressures on 563 pass-rush snaps.
In the decade 2010-2019 in the NFL, the highest pressure percentages were posted by Von Miller (17.0), Cameron Wake (16.4), Aaron Donald (15.8) and Joey Bosa (15.7).
Niners defensive coordinator Robert Saleh sees great things in Nick Bosa’s future.
“He’s got great footwork, his strength, his lower half, is probably one of the strongest in the league, not just out of rookies,” Saleh told Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. “His hand-eye coordination, especially when he’s in close quarters, is some of the best I’ve ever seen.
“He’s already beyond his years, and he’s only going to get better.”