SANTA CLARA – It was not long after he went down with an ankle injury on Aug. 7 that 49ers rookie defensive end Nick Bosa started studying the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive tackles.

“Honestly, when I got hurt, my mindset was Week 1, so it started right then,” Bosa said on Thursday.

Bosa knew he would not participate in any of the 49ers’ preseason games. So the No. 2 overall draft pick set his sights on the first regular-season game. He is expected to see action against the Buccaneers on Sunday.

“Nick, he’s going. . . . He should be,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said.

Bosa is likely to be used as a pass-rush specialist early in his rookie season. He said the excitement is getting bigger and bigger as Sunday approaches. After all, Bosa has not appeared in a game since his final game at Ohio State on Sept. 15, 2018, when he sustained a season-ending core muscle injury.

“Whenever I think about actual third down in the game, I get kind of excited already,” Bosa said. “It’ll build up toward game day, and I’m sure I’ll be able to keep my emotions in check, but it’ll be a lot for the first time.”

Bosa returned to practice this week to continue his preparations to face the Buccaneers. He appears to be moving well after spending a month rehabbing his right ankle injury.

“Bosa’s looked good so far,” Saleh said. “Obviously, we’re monitoring his reps and all that stuff, so he’s progressing. He feels good and especially with these days leading up are going to be critical for him with rehab and solidifying everything for game day.”

 

Bosa said he began working mentally on the Buccaneers' offense while rehabbing physically. He described the importance of his film work in getting ready to face Tampa Bay’s offensive tackles -- Donovan Smith and Demar Dotson. Smith entered the league in 2015 as a second-round draft pick, while Dotson, an 11-year veteran, has 91 career starts.

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Bosa said he has spent an equal amount of time studying both tackles he’ll face on Sunday to identify their strengths, weaknesses and tendencies.

Said Bosa, “At my position, you have a lot of one-on-ones, and if you don’t study who you’re going against, then it could be that one play where if you did study and you knew the way to beat him and you don’t use it on a certain play, that could be the difference.”