TAMPA, Fla. — Nick Bosa's much-anticipated 49ers debut exemplified what the rookie pass rusher is capable of.
The No. 2 pick in the 2019 NFL draft played 39 of the defense’s 70 snaps in the 49ers' 31-17 win over the Bucs, which calculates to 56 percent. During that time, he racked up two solo tackles, one for a loss, and one assist. He also sacked Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston once and hit him three times.
Bosa spent a bit of time off the field during OTAs due to a hamstring injury, and then was sidelined again in training camp with an ankle sprain. One of the biggest victories might have been him simply getting through the entire game healthy after a year away from the game due to injuries.
“Good, a little sore, just getting back into it,” Bosa said when asked about his health. “It’s a long game and you can’t really simulate it with practice so, definitely sore but I’ll be fine.
“Just getting my ankle back. An ankle sprain is something you kind of have to work through a little bit of pain in the beginning. Pretty happy that I got through the whole game and I started to pick it up at the end and we got the win.”
There were a few plays that Bosa would like to have back. The most notable instance was when he got into the backfield close enough for what could have been a sack, but hesitated. Winston subsequently slipped through his grasp.
“Yeah, just shooting my gun instead of pitter-pattering my feet like that,” Bosa said. “Because if I shoot my gun, even if I don’t get him, I’ll make him either stumble or make him go a certain way so somebody else can get him. I kind of just broke down too much and let him get away. Go for whatever I see instead of hesitating.”
Bosa was more pleased with his performance in the second half, as he became adjusted to the speed and style of the NFL and their quarterbacks as the game wore on.
“It’s just a different type of mindset rushing in the NFL compared to college, especially with Jameis,” Bosa said. “He’s unbelievable at getting away from you. I have a lot to work on and just a mindset change but I learned a lot today and I’m really glad to get a win.
“That just goes with the first game and Jameis. He’s unbelievable. Big dude. You can’t arm tackle him. But we got to him when it counted and that’s what matters.”
Bosa didn’t get his first NFL sack until the middle of the third quarter. He described it as exciting but was unable to celebrate it because of the timing.
“It felt great,” Bosa said. “It was kind of a moment where we had to focus up. So I was like ‘Alright, no celebration, let’s just go.’ It was second down so we had another big play right after it so it was kind of anti-climactic but it was still nice to get it.”
The 49ers defense was able to get Winston to the ground three times for a loss of 20 yards total, and had him under pressure much of the game. Bosa knew that if the line was able to get pressure on Winston, the Bucs QB would turn it over.
“Yeah, we knew he has a history of turnovers so we just tried to get in his face, stick hands in his face, whatever we could do,” Bosa said. “Close the pocket on him, make him feel suffocated and it turned out, what was it, four turnovers? Two picks? Three picks?”
When Bosa was reminded of the 49ers' previous season where takeaways were less common, he actually laughed and cracked a joke.
“That’s not normal for this team?” Bosa quipped. “Yeah, I’m just glad to be a part of a winning effort and I’m glad our defense is trending in the right way.”