SANTA CLARA -- It was an unusual sight for the 49ers to begin a defensive drive with both DeForest Buckner and Nick Bosa on the sidelines.
After both defensive stars were on the field for more than 90 percent of the defensive snaps in Week 15, coach Kyle Shanahan decided to make a concerted effort to give them more rest. The defensive linemen had been much more effective earlier in the season when they each were playing fewer snaps.
“We haven’t done what we anticipated going into the games the last couple weeks,” Shanahan said. “It’s tough to get those guys off the field just how good of players they are, but we haven’t done that well enough the last two weeks and we wanted to do better this week and we did. I think it paid off. You’ve got to survive those downs and help those guys stay fresher.”
Bosa, Buckner and Arik Armstead each played 51 snaps -- or 73-percent of the defensive plays -- against the Rams, which made a noticeable difference to Bosa immediately after the game. The team relied on Kentavius Street, Solomon Thomas, Sheldon Day and Jeremiah Valoaga to contribute to the rotation.
“Yeah that was huge,” Bosa said. “I feel 100 times better after this game. Just the past few games we kind of got caught up in the moment and when you do that in close games, you end up playing more plays than you’re supposed to.
“And it was huge for our guys to step up, Street, Sheldon, Solly and JV. Just huge contributions from them. We’ve had some injuries so we needed a few extra guys to step up and for them to take some reps off of us is monumental.”
The defense was unable to get to Rams quarterback Jared Goff for a sack but did consistently pressure him throughout the game. Goff repeatedly rolled out in a bootleg, causing the defensive linemen to run much further distances than normal.
“He probably ran 50 boots that game,” Bosa said. “It’s frustrating for the D-line because all we’re doing is running and chasing. It’s hard to really affect the game as much as we want to.
“But obviously if a team is doing that, it’s for a reason and once we stopped that, then we were able to get after him little bit more. But yeah, we got to weather the storm. A lot of teams are going to scheme us up like that.”
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Bosa also believes it’s expected for games to come down to the wire like they have for the past four weeks. He expects the same type of atmosphere next week in Seattle when both teams attempt to clinch the NFC's No. 1 seed and a first-round bye.
“Honestly, the amount of big games we’ve been in, night games, just really good teams that we’re playing,” Bosa said. “Seems like every single week is bound to end up somewhat like this. Sherm was just preaching trust each other and we will all end up the way we want if you just trust the guy next to you. He was right.
“It’s going to be everything on the line. We are going to give it our all. It’s for that bye week and we definitely want that bye week, so yeah we are going to lay it all on the line next week.”