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49ers’ Nick Bosa will give Steelers offensive line, Kenny Pickett a test in Week 1

Although the Steelers won’t be surprised by Nick Bosa being in the lineup Week 1, he’ll still be quite the challenge for Kenny Pickett and Pittsburgh’s offense.

Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes the quarterback as he defends during an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium on January 14, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

49ers star pass-rusher Nick Bosa signed a five-year, $170 million extension with San Francisco today, ending his preseason holdout just days before the team’s regular season opener against the Steelers.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed that Bosa will almost certainly be playing on Sunday. It remains to be seen whether or not San Francisco will keep the reigning Defensive Player of the Year on a snap count or not.

Bosa’s quick turnaround time from contract dispute to playing Week 1 may sound familiar to Steeler fans, as Pittsburgh’s own T.J. Watt signed his four-year, $112 million extension days before the Steelers opened their season in 2021. Despite not fully participating in practice during his “hold-in,” Watt still dominated against the Bills Week 1, recording 2 sacks, 1 tackle for loss, and 5 quarterback hits.

While Bosa held out of practice completely during his contract dispute, as opposed to Watt’s limited participation, it’s still fair to assume that the former will be in good enough shape to pose a real threat to the Steelers’ offense Week 1.

The Steelers won’t be surprised by Bosa’s sudden inclusion in the 49ers’ game plan, however. Coach Mike Tomlin stated on Tuesday that the team has been preparing to face Bosa all week, noting, “It’s prudent for us to assume [Bosa] is going to be there and prepare in that vein as opposed to being surprised.”

Although the Steelers won’t be surprised by Bosa’s presence on Sunday, that doesn’t mean that he won’t be an added challenge for Kenny Pickett and the Steelers’ offensive line to handle. Bosa’s pass-rushing acumen will undoubtedly put more pressure on Pickett and Steelers’ left tackle Dan Moore throughout the game.

However, Pickett, as well as his backup Mitch Trubisky, recorded top-five passing grades when under pressure in 2022 per PFF. Pickett’s passing grade of 72.2 only dropped to 69.2 when pressured. Still, Bosa will likely affect the time Pickett has to throw, undermining the Steelers’ deep passing game which has been a point of emphasis for the 2023 season.

Perhaps the best result of Bosa playing Week 1 is that fans will get to see a true test for the Steelers as they face one of the top overall rosters in pro football. A win on Sunday would mean Pittsburgh is ready to compete with the NFL’s elite.