Niners' Nick Bosa Has Been Even Better Than Advertised

Rookie defensive end puts on a show in victory over Panthers Sunday, including an athletic interception and long return to go with three sacks

Nick Bosa’s rookie season has been impressive, but his performance Sunday vs. the Carolina Panthers was special.

The 49ers defensive end had three sacks and an interception in San Francisco’s 51-13 victory, returning the pick 46 yards, cutting around and through would-be tacklers like a tight end on the loose.

All told, Bosa had four tackles, the three sacks, interception and deflected pass for a defense that throttled the Panthers.

But it was the interception that could turn out to be the No. 1 clip on Bosa’s highlight reel for this season. Bosa rushed the passer, leaped over an attempted cut block, reached up to snag the pass from quarterback Kyle Allen and then took off running.

“It was pretty damn impressive,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan after the game. “I’m sure when I watch the tape it will look even better. The play he made on the interception was one of the more impressive plays I’ve seen from a D-lineman.”

Niners cornerback Richard Sherman told Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports that not only should Bosa be the leading candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, he “should be in line for Defensive MVP.”

With seven sacks in seven games, Bosa ranks tied for fifth in the NFL with seven sacks (the same as his older brother, Joey, of the Chargers). Nick Bosa now has been in on 20 tackles, has 12 tackles for loss and has both a forced and recovered fumble.

According to ESPN, Bosa is the first 49ers player to have three sacks and an interception in a game since 1982, when sacks became an official statistic.

Sherman told Nick Waggoner of that Bosa has been a dynamic addition to a defense that has helped his team march to a 7-0 start.

“He’s everything you can ask for,” said Sherman. “He’s probably one of the best picks in 10 years with just how he’s played. He’s played like this since Day 1.  … He deserves player of the week, or rookie of the week, rookie of the year, or anything.”

With Bosa, the 49ers defensive front has evolved into one of the NFL’s best.

San Francisco now ranks No. 1 in total defense and No. 1 in pass defense. With seven sacks Sunday against the Panthers, the 49ers have 27, No. 4 in the league.

The 49ers return to action Thursday night in Arizona against the 3-4 Cardinals. Kickoff is set for 5:20 p.m.

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