‘Sometimes I forget he’s a rookie’: Nick Bosa shows maturity in first season


SANTA CLARA — At first, it wasn’t clear what Nick Bosa was doing.

After recording his second sack of the day, the rookie edge rusher began waving his arms, back and forth, before mimicking an enthusiastic flag plant into Levi’s Stadium’s turf.

“I think everybody knows what that was for,” Bosa told reporters after the game, a dominant 31-3 win over the Cleveland Browns back in October. “I just wanted to get payback. He had it coming.”

“He” was Baker Mayfield, and “payback” was redemption for a grudge held since September 2017, when then-Sooners quarterback Mayfield swung and planted an Oklahoma flag into the Ohio State logo at midfield following a win that propelled his team toward the College Football Playoff.

Bosa, the Ohio State defensive star who watched while walking away from defeat, wanted to make clear that he did not forget it. The San Francisco 49ers’ second overall pick circled the Cleveland matchup on his calendar and prepared the sack celebration in advance, making an extra effort to taunt the frazzled second-year quarterback in domination’s wake.

Bosa’s redemption celebration occurred in just the third game of his young career. It was a coming out party, of sorts, teeing off a season that lathered up a Rookie of the Year nomination.

In another sense, it was an early look at the young star’s standout demeanor.

Bosa went there

The former Buckeye with a “flag planting” celebration after a sack of Baker Mayfield (via @49ers)

— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 8, 2019

Bosa’s made his mark with an innate ability to put up blinders and zero in on his target: the quarterback. It’s a task that requires he not look back. Yet Bosa thrives, too, on an ability to reflect and introspect. The rookie can already summon competitive demons and be motivationally self-critical without plummeting into an emotional spiral.

“You can just look at him, he has a demeanor where he is quiet and reserved, other times he is relaxed,” 49ers running back Matt Breida, Bosa’s locker room neighbor, said. “You can’t tell it on the outside, but we can tell the difference.”

That moment against Mayfield and the Browns began a breakout first half for the 49ers defensive line and Bosa in particular. Through the eight-game win streak, Bosa racked up seven sacks, an interception, 13 quarterback hits and 21 total tackles. Through the season’s end, the 22-year-old collected 80 quarterback pressures — the most ever by a rookie in the league, per Pro Football Focus — with nine total sacks, 47 tackles (32 solo) and 27 quarterback hits.

Tight end Garrett Celek has seen a handful of rookie classes waltz through the 49ers’ facility since 2012. He knew from watching Bosa take on offensive linemen Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey in training camp that his team found something spectacular.

“In one-on-ones you could tell he had a lot of confidence in his abilities,” Celek said.

Celek watched injured from the sideline, but he could already envision how Bosa might bring to …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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