49ers

49ers' Nick Bosa has been solely focused on Week 1 since ankle injury

49ers' Nick Bosa has been solely focused on Week 1 since ankle injury

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.

[RELATED: Jimmie Ward's status for 49ers in Week 1 in doubt after fractured finger]

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.”

2020 NFL Draft: How DeForest Buckner could influence 49ers to trade down

2020 NFL Draft: How DeForest Buckner could influence 49ers to trade down

Whomever the 49ers select with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft will always be compared head-to-head against defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.

Little attention will be paid to the contract sizes. Buckner is scheduled to make $21 million annually over the next four seasons, while the choice at No. 13 will check in at approximately $4 million per year over the length of his four-year deal.

This will always go down as a one-for-one trade, however misleading that might be. The 49ers sent Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for their first-round pick in the 2020 draft.

Generally, when teams trade a high-caliber, proven player with many years ahead of him, such as Buckner, they understandably want to parlay that move into acquiring multiple players.

Maybe it’s because of the value of adding two or more players while trading away one player. Maybe it’s because teams want to sidestep those head-to-head comparisons. Maybe they want to avoid placing undo pressure and expectations onto a rookie who has enough to worry about upon entering the NFL.

Most recently, the New England Patriots did this after receiving the 49ers’ pick at No. 43 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft in exchange for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Bill Belichick traded out of No. 43. The Patriots picked up a later selection in the second round in addition to a fourth-rounder. When the draft was over, the Patriots had made four trades involving the original pick and the picks acquired in trades. Good luck trying to figure out, exactly, which players the Patriots acquired in connection with the Garoppolo trade.

The 49ers did the same thing four years earlier after they traded Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs for second-round picks in the 2013 and 2014 drafts.

Then-49ers general manager Trent Baalke flipped those two draft selections in five players -- Tank Carradine, Corey Lemonier, Carlos Hyde and Chris Borland -- along with another trade that enabled them to acquire veteran wide receiver Stevie Johnson.

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The 49ers will have plenty of options at different positions with the No. 13 overall pick. If they love a player in that spot, they will undoubtedly make their selection.

Nobody would be surprised if the 49ers address wide receiver, offensive tackle, cornerback and defensive line with any of their top selections.

[RELATED49ers, Raiders go offense/defense in latest mock NFL draft]

But if one or two targeted players are not there when it’s the 49ers’ turn to select in three weeks, they will almost assuredly look to bail out of No. 13. That would allow the 49ers to pick up more selections to take advantage of what is expected to be a deep draft at a number of different positions of need.

And it would also give the 49ers the opportunity to select more than one front-line starter to soften the blow of trading Buckner.

How ex-49er Merton Hanks channeled 'Sesame Street' in iconic dance

How ex-49er Merton Hanks channeled 'Sesame Street' in iconic dance

Merton Hanks owes his iconic celebration to a place where the air is sweet.

The former 49ers safety revealed to NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco in the latest "49ers Insider Podcast" that Hanks' legendary "chicken dance" was not the inspiration for the Bluth family, but an ode to a famous felt figure (not Franklin).

Hanks sat down with his daughter to watch "Sesame Street" during the 1995 season when he saw Bert "Doin' The Pigeon."

"I thought, 'OK, well, let me play around with that," Hanks told Maiocco. "[After messing] around with it in practice, it popped up ... in the Dallas Cowboys game when Elvis Grbac [made] his first start and Jerry Rice had, like, an [81-yard touchdown] to kick things off. It kind of came out in that game."

Hanks picked up a fumble and returned it 38 yards to score within the first two minutes of the 49ers' 38-20 road win over the rival Cowboys on Nov. 12, 1995. San Francisco, then 11 weeks into its Super Bowl title defense after lifting the monkey off Steve Young's back the previous season, needed some swagger.

The "pigeon dance" provided it."Deion Sanders had left (for the Cowboys)," Hanks recalled. "Ricky Watters had left (for the Philadelphia Eagles). My contract was coming up, and we felt like our on-the-field product was pretty solid as far as play, but we needed something to differentiate ourselves."

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Hanks spent eight seasons with the 49ers, becoming synonymous with the dance over his final four.

His 31 interceptions are the fourth most in 49ers history, but the dance is what most fans remember. Hanks' jig even transcended football, when eventual Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal incorporated the celebration into his repertoire early in his eight-season stint with the Los Angeles Lakers.

[RELATED: 49ers go offense/defense in latest NFL mock draft]

The 49ers embraced Hanks' era last season by wearing 1994-inspired throwback jerseys. Someone in San Francisco's secondary surely could do Hanks' dance this year, but we'll be left wondering one thing.

Can they also tell us how to get to "Sesame Street?"