SANTA CLARA -- Nick Bosa has not recorded a sack since Week 15, but the extra attention he is getting has opened opportunities for others.
The 49ers star pass rusher has recorded a career-high 15 sacks in his comeback season from an ACL injury, but has been shut out in the club’s past two contests. While it has been challenging for Bosa on a personal level, he has enjoyed his teammates taking advantage of their chance to shine.
Samson Ebukam has tied a career high of 4.5 sacks and recorded a career best 11 quarterback hits on the season. Arden Key is amid his most productive NFL season, registering six quarterback sacks and 14 quarterback hits.
D.J. Jones has played the most games (16) in his career while recording 39 solo tackles, nine of which have been for a loss. Jordan Willis' three sacks are a career-best and Arik Armstead’s 56 total tackles -- 25 solo and 31 assists -- is his highest tally in seven seasons.
“I think it’s a little frustrating at times when you don’t feel as involved in a game,” Bosa said on Thursday. “But when you see Arden get a career-high in sacks and Jordan Willis and Arik starting to come together, Samson I think a career-high as well. It’s definitely rewarding in that way too.”
Bosa believes the chemistry along the 49ers' defensive front has been exceptional through the second half of the season. The 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year’s goal of beating Aldon Smith’s single-season sack record of 19.5 may have to wait for another season, but Bosa sees the benefit for the group as a whole.
“I’ve seen a lot of good stuff on tape,” Bosa said. “Last week watching Arden, he had as good a game as any D-lineman could have in a game. He was winning one-on-ones left and right and not really getting blocked much and Arik had a huge day as well.”
Bosa smiled at the thought of being called a “sacrificial lamb” of sorts but understands the analogy. The edge rusher knows that offenses can’t double team everyone and it is only a matter of time before one of his teammates will disrupt the quarterback.
The defense has their work cut out for them on Sunday with their playoff hopes hanging in the balance. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford’s completion rate is just above 49 percent when under pressure and his touchdown (7) to interception (6) ratio is nearly even.
Stafford has been sacked 25 times through Week 17 - seven times during Weeks 1-8 and 18 times from Weeks 9-17. The Rams quarterback is in a three-way tie for the second-most interceptions in 2021 (15) second only to Trevor Lawrence who has thrown 17.
Bosa and the 49ers' defense clearly understand the need to make Stafford uncomfortable in the pocket on Sunday.
“The more attention that goes whatever way, we have a lot of confidence in the other guys who are going to get those one-on-ones that they are going to win them,” Bosa said. “It’s definitely an important week to keep that going.”