SANTA CLARA -- Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa earned an award that he cherished for his dominating performance Monday night in the 49ers’ 31-3 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
No, not the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award. He received that, too.
"I couldn't care less," Bosa said of the league-wide award. "I"m just trying to keep playing, keep winning."
But on an upper shelf at Bosa’s locker, he reached up to show off gold-plated brass knuckles and an accompanying placard signed by each of the 49ers’ other defensive linemen.
The team’s defensive line coach, Kris Kocurek, presented Bosa with the award for best representing the theme of the week. Bosa emerged as the winner of the 'Brass Knuckles Street Fight' honor, which referred to the mindset Kocurek wanted his linemen to play with against the Browns. The theme changes every week.
Bosa registered two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery Monday night at Levi's Stadium. He also forced Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield into an intentional grounding penalty.
Bosa emphasized he used revenge as a motivating factor from his college days at Ohio State, when Mayfield went to the Buckeyes’ home field and planted a University of Oklahoma flag on the field after leading the Sooners to a victory.
“It was a real thing,” Bosa said. “We wanted some revenge there. All the older guys hit me up and said good job.”
Bosa said a lot of his Ohio State teammates, including New Orleans defensive back Marshon Lattimore, and defensive linemen Tyquan Lewis (Indianapolis), Jalyn Holmes (Minnesota) and Tracy Sprinkle reached out to congratulate him for his own flag-planting gesture.
Bosa has certainly not eased into his first quarter-season in the NFL after arriving as the No. 2 overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Bosa and DeForest Buckner are tied for the team lead with three sacks. But Bosa said he does not believe opponents will be able to devote any more resources toward blocking him because of the 49ers’ other defensive linemen.
“That can’t really last too long because we have three other guys who can win one-on-one and get to the quarterback,” Bosa said. “So if they want to chip me and slide to me, that’ll free up Arik (Armstead) one-on-one with a guard, and I’ll take that every day.”
Against Los Angles in Week 6, Bosa will be matched up mostly against a player on the other end of his career. Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth in June announced he opted against retirement to return for his 14th NFL season.
“He’s a savvy vet. ... Some of the nuances he uses are similar to Joe [Staley],” Bosa said of Whitworth. “He’s smart. He knows how to hold you up for that little extra second when the quarterback needs it. It’s the small things he does that I need to adapt to.”
Bosa said he will enter the game with the same street-fight mindset. He said he wants to assert his physicality and aggressiveness from the first snap of the game.
“It opens up my fastballs that I throw later in the game, so I think my approach is the same but there are a couple moves that you work on throughout the week where you see a weakness and you try to exploit it,” he said.
One thing Bosa will be lacking this week is the added motivation from a personal grudge against Rams quarterback Jared Goff.
“I’ll be fine,” Bosa said.
Bosa was asked if Goff has done anything to anger him.
“Not yet,” he replied.