There is a lot to be excited about if you're a fan of the 49ers. With the NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, fans and the 49ers alike can begin to get excited about what's in store for San Francisco this season.
This past week, the NFL released the 2021 season schedule, when the 49ers got a preview of what their upcoming season will look like. On top of that, rookie minicamp began over the weekend, where rookie quarterback Trey Lance got his first reps in with the team.
One story that may have taken a back seat over the previous weeks is the anticipated return of defensive end Nick Bosa.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan joined Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin on "The Michael Irvin Podcast" and discussed his star pass-rusher and the impact his return will have on the defense.
"It's huge," Shanahan said. "There's lots of good players in this league and Nick's only played one year. But I think everyone saw the type of player he is now and that he was his rookie year. Everyone saw that in college. He didn't play a ton then, missing that last year and stuff. But when you have a guy at that level, and there's not a ton of them, it changes who you are."
The 49ers' defense was still decent in 2020, all things considered. Without Bosa though, the pass-rush was nowhere near the same as the year prior. That would be the case for any team that loses one of the league's premier pass-rushers.
"Not comparing these guys, but the type of level these guys are, if the Rams don't have Aaron Donald, that's going to be different," Shanahan continued. "If Denver loses Von Miller, it's going to be different. There's just guys on the D-line that there's a few that are different. How J.J. Watt was in Houston, it changes everything.”
If Bosa is able to return to the field and pick up where he left off in 2019, he will wreak havoc on opposing offenses all season long. Shanahan doesn't anticipate any team being able to truly stop a guy like Bosa.
"When you can get good players around people like that, and you can have a good scheme, it's tough to mess with because there's not people in the league that can block those guys. You can hold on, and you can try to scheme and stuff so you limit the opportunities, but those dude's aren't getting blocked. It's a matter of time. So, you better make sure it's not a one-dimensional game.
"You better make sure they're playing run, playing pass, playing play-action, playing keepers, because if not, and those dude's tee off, it's over. That's when they'll get the MVP."
Reports have indicated that Bosa is progressing well in his rehab from a torn ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 season. If the 49ers are able to get the sort of production out of Bosa that helped propel the team to a Super Bowl appearance in 2019, the sky is the limit for a healthy 49ers team in 2021.