Nick Bosa has plenty to study as 49ers prepare for Cardinals rematch

Nick Bosa has plenty to study as 49ers prepare for Cardinals rematch

SANTA CLARA – 49ers rookie defensive end Nick Bosa’s ability to make adjustments will be tested this week.

For the first time in his career, he will face the same opponent twice in the same season when the 49ers meet the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in a Week 11 game at Levi’s Stadium.

That means another opportunity to go up against Cardinals left tackle, D.J. Humphries, a fifth-year pro who is having his best NFL season through 10 games. Humphries has allowed just one sack and 21 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

When the 49ers beat the Cardinals in Arizona on Thursday, Oct. 31, Bosa had three quarterback hurries of rookie Kyler Murray, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Bosa was selected No. 2.

“Definitely, a big learning experience,” Bosa said. “It was a short week, so a lot of the game plan that we had that week, we’re keeping. And we’re obviously adjusting to some other stuff. But we know our opponent and we know what to do to beat them. We just got to prepare.”

Bosa and Arik Armstead lead the 49ers with seven sacks apiece. Bosa has gone two games without throwing the opposing quarterback for a loss, but he had a strong game Monday against Seattle. Bosa applied pressure to Russell Wilson six times with one hit.

Facing mobile quarterbacks in back-to-back games has given Bosa some lessons on the mindset needed when he faces Murray again Sunday.

“They’re all different, but I’m getting better at it, for sure,” Bosa said.

What’s the key?

“Relentless,” he said. “Keep after it, no matter what. You never know when he’ll hold onto it, so you got to rush like he’s holding on to it every time.”

The 49ers expect the Cardinals to repeat much of the same game plan from the Week 9 meeting. The Cardinals' offensive approach consisted of screens, quick-hitting passes and running the ball in an attempt to neutralize the 49ers' pass rush.

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Bosa and the rest of the defense is coming off an overtime game in which he, Armstead and DeForest Buckner played nearly every snap. Buckner played 69 of the team’s 73 defensive plays, while Armstead was on the field for 68 snaps. Bosa was on the field for a career-high 60 plays.

“During the game, you’re good to go,” Bosa said. “Obviously, you’re going to keep giving it all you have, but the next day you definitely feel it. I usually don’t play that many plays. We don’t usually play that many plays as a defense, so we’re all a little extra sore, but we’ll be fine.”

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


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.

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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.

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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.