SANTA CLARA -- 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans believes J.J. Watt and Nick Bosa share a common trait.
As a rookie, Bosa had been asked to line up predominantly on the right side because teammate Dee Ford plays from the left. In Week 7, the 30-year old aggravated a lingering neck/spine injury and Bosa has had the opportunity to balance his workload on both sides of the line.
When Bosa was only playing from the left side through the first six games of the season, the third-year pass rusher registered six quarterback sacks. In the remaining six games, in Ford’s absence, Bosa’s production has actually gone up registering seven sacks.
“It really doesn't matter where he is,” Ryans said Thursday. “He's effective no matter where he is on the field, wherever he lines up along the defensive line. The one guy that I played with that was similar in that way was J.J. Watt.
“He was a guy who you could move around, no matter whatever the matchup was that week, he can win against anybody. So you allowed him to move around whoever he wanted to go against, you take him. That's kind of the same approach we take with Nick, whoever he wants to line up against, he has that freedom to do it because he's shown us he can win against anyone.”
Bosa has preferred the variety, but shared that it didn’t necessarily feel natural to start and took some time to adjust. Still, in his first game where he rushed from the left side - Week 8 vs. Chicago, the 49ers defensive end managed to sack Bears quarterback Justin Fields twice.
Now, after six games, Bosa feels more balanced.
“I was always on the right my rookie year and whenever I would go on the left it would feel awkward and it would kind of deteriorate one side of your body,” Bosa said. “It’s kind of a weird thing over a long season. I much prefer playing both, practicing on both, trying to even things out as much as I can so I feel good wherever I am at.”
Bosa shared one aspect of the game that he would like to improve upon is forcing fumbles. He believes playing from the left side will give him more opportunities to do so. While most believe that the blind side is the quarterback’s weak side (the defensive line’s right side), Bosa feels like he is closer to the ball when he is on the left.
The 2019 Defensive Rookie of the year forced one fumble in Weeks 1-through-7 and two since then, while playing on both sides. Bosa revealed that he hasn’t even been trying to go for the football when he is in pursuit of the opposing quarterback. He credits his helmet for dislodging the ball.
As far as the comparison to Watt, Bosa appreciates the compliment, but believes the All-Pro pass rusher is in a category all on his own.
“There’s only one J.J. Watt,” Bosa said. “You’re not really going to go out there and do what he does. I wouldn’t really say that my game is much like his. He is one of the best ever. He moves around and go to towards the match-up. It’s just smart football, putting J.J. Watt on the worst player.”