49ers

Drafting Nick Bosa with No. 2 pick helped 49ers 'complete the puzzle'

Drafting Nick Bosa with No. 2 pick helped 49ers 'complete the puzzle'

Nick Bosa had a pretty good idea what was going to happen within the first few minutes of the NFL draft in late-April.

Bosa, his family and some close friends were seated within a large tent installed just off-stage from the crowd that gathered at First and Broadway in Nashville. They were in the green room with many of the other individuals who would be first-round draft picks -- whose futures would be determined by the organizations that chose them.

The Arizona Cardinals had the first pick in the draft, and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury was among a group that twice met up with Bosa for dinner in the weeks leading up to the draft. They never revealed their intentions to Bosa.

“I was definitely curious to see if they’d pick me No. 1,” Bosa said this week. “I’d heard Kyler Murray was going to be the pick, but I didn’t know. So I was just waiting anxiously, and I heard his family go crazy, so . . . “

So ... what the 49ers hoped would happen, happened.

Bosa, widely considered the top edge rusher in the draft, was heading to the 49ers, owners of the No. 2 overall pick. And Bosa became the fifth first-round draft choice to have a spot on the team’s defensive line.

“I didn’t know too much about the 49ers until closer to the draft,” Bosa said. “I started to look into who might get me. And I just saw all the talent they had, all the talent they picked up with Kwon (Alexander) and Dee (Ford), and I saw how they had a good offensive line, the quarterback obviously got hurt (in 2018).

“All the pieces were in place, so it was definitely one of my top destinations I wanted to come to.”

Just one of the top or the top?

“It was the top, yeah,” Bosa said.

The 49ers’ decision, which was made far in advance of the draft, came down to Bosa or Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. The 49ers certainly did not need another defensive tackle to join a depth chart that already consisted of DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas, along with D.J. Jones and Sheldon Day.

“The Arizona Cardinals made a wise choice for them, and fortunately for us, because of need, there was a player that we very much coveted and had decided if he was there, he’s our guy,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said.

Lynch said the decision was not necessarily a “no-brainer” because he, coach Kyle Shanahan and the personnel and coaching staffs had high opinions of Williams, too.

“We really studied that hard,” Lynch said. “But I remember Kyle and I looking at each other, ‘Hey, to complete the puzzle, we need edge.’ We had added Dee Ford and we felt like there was one more piece to it.

“We felt like ultimately we loved Bosa as a complete football player and the fact that he was the edge player, it became a pretty simple decision for us. He’s been outstanding thus far.”

Bosa this week was named winner of NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. He recorded three sacks and an interception in the 49ers’ 51-13 victory over the Carolina Panthers. He was also named NFC Defensive Player of the Month, as well as NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month.

Bosa leads the 49ers with seven sacks, six of which came during the recent four-game stretch. And he will clearly be in the spotlight Thursday night when he goes up against the team that had the No. 1 overall pick.

Bosa said he harbors no ill-will against the Cardinals for making the best decision for them.

“They needed a quarterback, so they picked a quarterback,” Bosa said.

Bosa might be lining up Thursday night for the Cardinals if not for the team’s decision to fire coach Steve Wilks after just one season.

The hiring of Kliff Kingsbury set the wheels in motion for the Cardinals to select a quarterback to with the top pick in the draft that was a better fit for his spread offense. Like Wilks, Cardinals decided to move on from quarterback Josh Rosen after just one season.

“We loved Nick Bosa the entire process,” Kingsbury said this week on a conference call with the Bay Area media. “He’s a phenomenal person, competitor, player. What you’re seeing him do week-in and week-out is kind of the expectation.

“We have a coach (linebackers coach Bill Davis) on our staff that was at Ohio State, so we had intimate knowledge of his work ethic and who he is. So we were all on board, all fired up about him. We ended up taking Kyler. We thought that was the best move for our organization. But we knew whoever was going to take Nick was going to get a dominant player in this league.”

[RELATED: The Choice -- How football runs through Nick Bosa's blood]

The Cardinals’ plan for Bosa would have been to use him as a stand-up linebacker, Kingsbury said. The idea was shared with Bosa, who said he was up for the position switch, even if he knew he was not a perfect fit for a 3-4 defense.

“They definitely were selling me on the two-point stance, and I was buying into it,” Bosa said. “There were good things we could’ve done with it, and I’m sure I would’ve gotten used to it and been fine. But I think for my full potential to be reached, I think I’m in the right place, the right defense.”

49ers, Sharks games not expected before November, health official says

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AP

49ers, Sharks games not expected before November, health official says

A South Bay health official suggested this week that an optimistic goal might be for the return of sporting events in mid-November.

Santa Clara County executive officer Dr. Jeffrey Smith told the county’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that games -- presumably high school, college and professional -- might not return to the South Bay for at least another seven months due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Smith said he did not expect there would be “any sports games until at least Thanksgiving, and we’d be lucky to have them by Thanksgiving. This is not something that’s going to be easy to do."

His comments were first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The project would mean no games in Santa Clara County for the 49ers, San Jose Sharks, Stanford University and San Jose State University.

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The 49ers will follow the lead of the NFL, as well as local and national health officials, a team official told NBC Sports Bay Area. The 49ers stance is consistent with a statement the club released on March 12.

“Our organization continues to collaborate with federal, state, and local health organizations, as well as our League office, to monitor the evolving developments regarding COVID-19,” the organization said. “Our intent is to make the most informed decisions regarding the health and wellness of all San Francisco 49ers and Levi's Stadium employees, patrons, and the community at large.”

Last week, NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash said the league is proceeding as if there will be a full 16-game schedule this season.

"All of our discussion, all of our focus, has been on a normal traditional season, starting on time, playing in front of fans, in our regular stadiums, and going through a full 16-game regular season and full set of playoffs," Pash said. "That's our focus."

The NFL has proceeded with the free-agent signing period and the upcoming 2020 draft despite travel restrictions and shelter-in-place guidelines for all league personnel. The NFL is also expected to release its full regular-season schedule around May 9.

[RELATED: Oklahoma WR Lamb could be 49ers' Sanders replacement]

But the Santa Clara County official told the Board of Supervisors he believes the risk of exposure to the coronavirus is not going away any time soon.

“There will definitely be individuals who will get sick,” Dr. Smith said. “And because there are individuals who get sick, there will be individuals who die after the order is released, unless we come up with a foolproof immunization, which is highly unlikely.”

Why Bobby Wagner is wrong Seahawks, not 49ers, are NFC West team to beat

Why Bobby Wagner is wrong Seahawks, not 49ers, are NFC West team to beat

The 49ers are reigning champions of their conference and division. They held a double-digit lead midway through the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV. Though the Kansas City Chiefs ultimately came back to win, that was only San Francisco's fourth loss of the season, including the playoffs. In those four defeats, the 49ers lost by a combined total of only 24 points -- nearly half of which resulted from the Super Bowl.

So, naturally, San Francisco would be the team to beat -- if not in the NFC, surely in the NFC West -- next season, right?

Not according to Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner.

During an appearance on ESPN's "First Take" on Wednesday, Wagner expressed significant confidence in his team, and made the case that the Seahawks should be the favorites in the NFC West.

"I feel really confident," Wagner said. "Obviously, Russell [Wilson] is an amazing quarterback; the things that he does on the field are just amazing. Like you said, he's one of the greatest quarterbacks in our game. We're confident on that side. I feel like from the defensive standpoint, there's a lot of room for improvement. We have to play a little bit better. I feel like if we make those changes and make those improvements, I still feel like we'll be the team to beat."

Still? Hmmm ...

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He's absolutely right about Wilson. The guy is a magician in the pocket -- and that's where you hope to contain him. Wilson has been a thorn in San Francisco's side ever since he entered the NFL, and there's arguably no more terrifying opposing QB to 49er fans. With Wilson having two deep targets in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, as well as a strong running game, there's ample reason for Wagner to be confident about Seattle's offense.

The defense, on the other hand? Well, he's correct that there's room for improvement. Plenty of it.

Last season, the Seahawks ranked 26th overall in total defense, and tied for the second-fewest sacks in the NFL. That was with standout defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney in tow, but all signs point toward him signing elsewhere this offseason in free agency. They re-signed defensive tackle Jarran Reed, traded for cornerback Quentin Dunbar and signed pass-rushers Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin, but other than that, Seattle hasn't really addressed the defensive side of the ball this offseason. Granted, the 2020 NFL Draft is right around the corner, but there's no guarantee they'll find any immediate contributors there.

Wagner is phenomenal, and fellow linebacker K.J. Wright is very solid, as well. But they both lived up to those reputations last season, and look how that worked out. Yes, the 49ers won the division by a matter of inches in Week 17, but Seattle also required overtime to beat a shorthanded San Francisco squad in Week 10, which was without star tight end George Kittle.

Though the 49ers have retained most of their own free agents, they did see wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders sign with the New Orleans Saints, and made the tough decision to trade defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, San Francisco didn't lose Buckner for nothing -- like Seattle might with Clowney. The 49ers got the No. 13 overall pick in the upcoming draft in exchange, which should help them replace Buckner or Sanders, or address another position.

[RELATED: Oklahoma WR Lamb could be 49ers' Sanders replacement]

The Seahawks currently have five picks in the first four rounds of the 2020 draft, but they gave up a third-rounder to acquire Clowney last offseason, and their earliest selection doesn't come until No. 27 overall.

In addition to the No. 13 overall pick, the 49ers also possess No. 31.

Any team with Wilson behind center should feel confident. But last I checked, he doesn't play defense, and that, among other reasons, is why the 49ers -- and not the Seahawks -- are the team to beat in the NFC West.