Nick Bosa will get a dose of his new normal just three regular-season weeks into his NFL career.
In his Football Morning in America column on Monday, NBC Sports' Peter King wrote that the 49ers' Week 3 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers takes on new significance after the 49ers selected former Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa with the No. 2 pick in April's NFL draft. In Bosa's Levi's Stadium debut, the rookie will face his first significant challenge.
"Here in Week 3, he plays his first home game against tree-trunk QB Ben Roethlisberger and a premier offensive line," King wrote. "This game will be the first acid test for Bosa."
Roethlisberger offers a step up from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and Cincinnati Bengals signal-caller Andy Dalton, despite turning 37 in March. The Steelers star won't have premier weapons Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell in the fold when his team visits Santa Clara, but Bosa and the 49ers are right to fear the Steelers' offensive line.
Pro Football Focus graded the group as the best unit in football last season, and they had the highest pass-blocking efficiency rating (85.5) of any offensive line since 2015. Roethlisberger didn't face much pressure playing behind them and was under duress on just under a quarter of his dropbacks in 2018. The 49ers' new-look defensive line, flanked by Bosa and trade acquisition Dee Ford, should be a good test for the Steelers in their own right, but they'll have their hands full in a hurry.
Week 3 is also important because of how back-loaded the 49ers' schedule is. San Francisco finishes its schedule with five games against 2018 playoff teams in the final five weeks of the season, plus matchups against the much-improved Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers and the Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay Packers. Bosa will be tested trying to chase down Baker Mayfield and Cam Newton, too, but Roethlisberger and the Steelers' offensive line could be his "welcome to the NFL" game.