Defensive end Nick Bosa left the playing field at MetLife Stadium on a cart with a severe knee injury when the 49ers’ defense reconvened in the huddle.
“It was just crazy,” defensive tackle Solomon Thomas told NBC Sports Bay Area, “because Nick got hurt and goes down, and we were all pretty emotional.
“We were like, ‘OK, we’re going to play for Nick; we’re going to ball out; we love Nick.’”
Two plays later, Thomas was carted off the field after he sustained a left knee injury of his own.
“I’m walking to the X-ray room right as Nick’s walking out, and Nick goes, ‘No. No freakin’ way,’” Thomas recalled.
Bosa and Thomas sustained season-ending torn ACLs in their left knees against the New York Jets in the Week 2 game on Sept. 20.
Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed the knee reconstructions, told Matt Barrows of The Athletic, the surgeries “weren’t just straight-forward, isolated ACL injuries.”
Thomas revealed to NBC Sports Bay Area in addition to his ACL injury, he tore the lateral meniscus and the medial patellofemoral ligament, which attaches the kneecap to the inner part of the knee.
Yet, Thomas said he is certain both players will be ready to return to action in plenty of time to start the 2021 season.
“Oh, definitely, I have no doubt in my mind,” said Thomas, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. “There’s no reason to have us back for OTAs. But if you wanted us back for OTAs, I believe both of us are at a place where we could get back for then. We’re athletes, we’re competitors, we want to be back as soon as possible.”
Thomas and Bosa worked daily for two weeks at the 49ers’ facility in Santa Clara, but most of their rehabilitation has taken place separately. Thomas said they are keeping close track of each other’s rehab. They are both doing a lot of strength work and are working up to the jogging-and-running stage, Thomas said.
“We’re competitors at the end of the day, but we’re also pushing each other,” Thomas said. “Nick would send me a Snapchat early of him flexing his knee, and I’ll do the same back.”
Jimmy Garoppolo and Raheem Mostert sustained ankle injuries that day, as the safety of the artificial turf at MetLife Stadium was called into question.
Thomas described what happened on the play in which he went down.
“My body was in a bad position,” Thomas said. “My upper body was going right, my lower body was going left. And then Arik (Armstead) bull-rushed the tackle, and the tackle put enough pressure on my outside knee, where it just collapsed.”
Last year, NFL Players Association president JC Tretter cited data collected from the 2012 through 2018 seasons. The study showed a 32 percent higher rate of non-contact knee injuries on artificial surfaces and a 69 percent higher rate of non-contact foot and ankle injuries on artificial surfaces.
Thomas called on the NFL to abolish artificial turf fields.
“The NFL needs to do a better job with turf,” Thomas said. “It should be all grass fields. We should take care of our players. Safety should be No. 1.”