Most of the commentary over the past several weeks surrounding the San Francisco 49ers has been about quarterback Trey Lance falling down to QB3 on the depth chart. What’s perhaps not being talked about enough is the absence of 49ers superstar DE Nick Bosa, who’s spent the off-season away from the team as he holds out for a new contract.
What do the Steelers care about the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year? Well, we’re just 16 days out from the 49ers-Steelers Week 1 kickoff… and an absence from Bosa would be a huge benefit to second year QB Kenny Pickett, especially. Bosa led the league with 18.5 sacks and 30 QB hits in his 2022 campaign, including two forced fumbles.
Now, he’ll look to find himself at the top of the EDGE market before taking the field to play on the final year of his rookie contract. The former No. 2 pick is due to make $17.859 million on his fifth-year option, but Bosa’s main priority is to get a long-term deal in place with the team for the sake of security. Ironically, it’s Steelers’ T.J. Watt that leads all edge defenders with an average annual salary of just over $28 million. Second behind Watt is none other than Nick’s brother Joey, who signed a five-year, $135 million extension with the Chargers back in 2020.
The 49ers ranked top 10 with a 36.2% pressure rate in 2022, though Bosa accounted for just under 30% of the team’s total pressures alone. Without him on the edge, the 49ers pass rush will look a bit different, which could be a huge plus as the Steelers starting offense looks to build on the success they saw in the preseason.
Should Bosa be out for Week 1, look for former Raiders first round pick Clelin Ferrell to see plenty of work on the edge, while former Steeler Javon Hargrave seeks pressure at DT. In Hargrave’s 2022 season with the Eagles, he ranked sixth among defensive lineman with a 90.8 PFF pass rushing grade in the regular season — just barely having beaten out Bosa himself, who had a 90.9 grade.
That being said, if the 49ers and Bosa do agree to terms ahead of season kickoff, the Steelers’ new-look offensive line might have their hands full with this San Francisco duo.