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49ers excited to get Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa back on the team

PIX Now Afternoon Edition -- 9-7-2023
PIX Now Afternoon Edition -- 9-7-2023 05:57

SANTA CLARA - Steve Wilks spent plenty of time in his first offseason as defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers designing a scheme that can take advantage of the immense talent of edge rusher Nick Bosa.

Now that Bosa's lengthy holdout is over and he is back with the team, Wilks finally gets the chance to put some of those plans into action.

Bosa reported to the 49ers on Thursday after agreeing to a record-setting contract extension the previous day that ended a holdout that had lasted more than six weeks.

"Excited, number one, that he's back in the building. We all know that he makes us a better football team, not just a better defense," Wilks said. "Business as usual as regards for his preparation, but we understands he brings a bit more to the game plan."

Bosa only took part in individual drills in practice, spending most of his time working on conditioning and pass-rush moves on the side.

The Niners will have only a light practice on Friday before flying to Pittsburgh for the season opener on Sunday when Bosa is expected to suit up. Whether he will be able to handle his typical load of between 45 and 60 snaps in the game remains to be seen.

"It's hard to say," Wilks said. "Each player is different. I say that in a meaningful way. He's different. I'm not really trying to put a limit on what he can do. I'm just trying to get a feel and once we get that info we can go from there."

Bosa ended his holdout Wednesday when he agreed to the five-year extension worth $170 million over five seasons with $122.5 million guaranteed. The deal is the richest ever for a defensive player with the average annual payout of $34 million topping the previous mark of $31.7 million for Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the guarantees beating the $102 million Bosa's older brother, Joey, got from the Chargers in 2020.

Bosa immediately flew from South Florida to the Bay Area and arrived Wednesday night. He reported to the team facility on Thursday with the rest of his teammates and was on the practice field for the first time since ending the holdout.

Getting the deal done in time for Bosa to play this week provides a big boost for a team that comes into the season with championship aspirations and doesn't need to contemplate the worst-case scenario with Bosa.

Bosa earned the lucrative new deal with stellar play since being drafted second overall in 2019. He was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and was voted the top defensive player in the NFL last season when he led the league with 18 1/2 sacks.

Bosa has 34 sacks the past two seasons after having nine as a rookie in 2019. He had no sacks in two games in 2020 when he went down with a season-ending knee injury.

In Bosa's three healthy seasons, San Francisco ranks third in points allowed, second in yards per play allowed, fourth in sacks and tied for sixth in takeaways.

The Niners are counting on him to be a key part of a defense that also added a top interior pass rusher this offseason in Javon Hargrave.

The two haven't gotten any practice time together and know it will take time to build up the chemistry that will allow them to complement each other in games.

"I think it's just the snaps on the field," Hargrave said. "You learn each other by the reps you take. It's just getting reps together. It's going to be OK."

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