Why 49ers' Nick Bosa has legitimate shot at Defensive Player of Year

Why 49ers' Nick Bosa has legitimate shot at Defensive Player of Year

49ers cornerback Richard Sherman has been called many things during his NFL career, but soft-spoken is not on that list.

Sherman tends to say what’s on his mind, and the Stanford graduate tends to back it up with intelligent, reliable information.

After Sunday’s 51-13 blowout win over the Carolina Panthers, Sherman was asked about rookie teammate Nick Bosa, whose dominance was once again on display in a performance that saw the former No. 2 overall draft pick have three sacks and intercepted Panthers QB Kyle Allen in a phenomenal display of athleticism.

“If he just kept the stat line as it is right now, he could win Rookie of the Year, but right now, he should be in line for Defensive MVP,” Sherman told reporters.

That might sound like blasphemy, given that a rookie hasn’t won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award since legendary New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor did it back in 1981.

Taylor dominated as part of what was a top-five scoring defense that season, notching 9.5 sacks (unofficially according to his Hall of Fame page, sacks weren’t officially kept as a stat until the 1982 season) on his way to bringing home both the rookie DPOY and the AP Defensive Player of the Year honors.

But the way Bosa has performed in 2019, he has a chance to join Taylor as the second.

Through his first seven NFL games, Bosa has 16 solo tackles including seven sacks, which is tied for the league-lead among rookies with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Josh Allen, who was drafted just five picks behind Bosa in April's draft.

Bosa also paces the NFL with 11 tackles for loss, albeit in a tie with Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who is the two-time reigning DPOY in the NFL himself.

NBC Sports' Peter King had this to say about Bosa after Sunday's victory:

I’d argue that Bosa’s been the most impactful edge player to enter the NFL since Julius Peppers in 2002. Since 2000, 18 edge players have been picked in the top five in the past 20 NFL drafts. Bosa’s seven sacks and one interception through seven games is exactly the stat line of Peppers—and only Von Miller (six sacks, no picks) is close. No other player picked in the top five had more than four sacks in his first seven games. Probably only Peppers was asked to do as much as Bosa early, playing all over the field. And Peppers or Miller weren’t the run player Bosa’s shown so far. Bosa is a complete player in a room full of defensive-line stalwarts.

Bosa might find himself getting the double- or triple-team treatment that greets players like Donald each week, as his prestige as a multi-faceted defensive lineman continues to grow. However, San Francisco’s terrifying defensive line doesn’t allow for a lot of picking your spots. A unit featuring five guys who were drafted in the first round isn't featuring much of a weak link.

The Ohio State product likely will end up being by far the most dominant force on a top-five defense come season's end, as the 49ers currently rank second in points allowed and first in yards allowed through eight weeks.

With nine games to go, Bosa also has a chance to catch Jevon Kearse and break the rookie sack record (14), which Kearse set back in 1999. Bosa already is on pace, as he sits just a half-sack behind Mark Anderson for the most through a player’s first seven career games since sacks became official in 1982.

The impact Bosa has made on the 49ers defense also brings back shades of LT's imprint as a rookie in the Big Apple.

Not all of the credit for the 49ers defensive turnaround can be attributed to Bosa’s addition, but there’s no question he’s been a huge part of it.

This is not an article making the argument that Nick Bosa will be the next Lawrence Taylor -- just want to emphatically make that clear. 

LT universally is regarded as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, as he brought home DPOY hardware twice more in his illustrious career, as well as an overall NFL MVP and a pair of Super Bowl rings.

All I’m saying is Bosa has made a similar impact in his rookie season, and if he continues to play at this level, he might deserve some looks for DPOY come February, not just Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Between his flag-wave trolling of Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield to his impressive family lineage, Bosa has already captured the nation’s attention. 

[RELATED: Why 49ers feel good about roster despite no deadline deals]

Now's the time for him to truly make himself a household name, as the 49ers prepare for a tough stretch of games to prove that their championship contender status is more than a mirage.

Bosa has another chance to avenge a personal grudge Thursday, as he will line up across from the man who was drafted one spot ahead of him in the draft, Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray.

How 49ers' two 2020 New York games could be impacted by coronavirus

How 49ers' two 2020 New York games could be impacted by coronavirus

The 49ers are planning to spend more than a week in New York in September, but that might not happen anymore.

NBC Sports NFL analyst Peter King reported Sunday night that the NFL will urge teams with back-to-back road games in opposite time zones not to stay in hotels between games.

"The eight teams that have such back-to-backs will probably have to file “IDER plans,” which stands for infectious disease emergency response," King wrote Sunday in his latest "Football Morning In America" column. "These are detailed travel and sequestering plans that the league and the union will need to approve before a team is able to stay on the road for that length of time. I’m told the league is going to strongly urge teams not to stay on the road that long, despite the inconvenience for the teams involved."

Back in May, King reported that the 49ers and Raiders were among eight teams to ask the NFL to group together road games in the Pacific or Eastern time zone.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The league scheduled the 49ers to play at the New York Jets in Week 2 and the New York Giants in Week 3 during the 2020 NFL season, meaning San Francisco could stay in the New York area to reduce travel.

[RELATED: Jimmy G arrives at camp in Kittle shirt]

But with the coronavirus pandemic raging, it now appears that the league won't allow the 49ers and other teams to stay on the road rather than returning home.

Like everyone else around the world, NFL teams are going to have to get used to adjusting their routines. If the 49ers have to travel back to the Bay Area and then return to New York a few days later, it surely will be an inconvenience. But this is going to be a season of inconveniences.

NFL opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

NFL opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

As the sports world now is underway despite the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL is next up. There will be questions and concerns aplenty, too. 

Before training camp even begins, several players already have decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to health concerns. That list is bound to grow as well.

Here is who will not be suiting up this season as the virus continues to run rampant. 

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OG, Kansas City Chiefs

Duvernay-Tardif, who has a medical degree from and has been working as an orderly at a long-term care facility in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec during the pandemic, became the first player to opt out of the 2020 season. The Chiefs' starting offensive guard tweeted his reasoning on July 24. 

De'Anthony Thomas, WR/KR, Baltimore Ravens 

Return specialist De'Anthony Thomas voluntarily opted out of the season, the Ravens announced Monday. 

Chance Warmack, OG, Seattle Seahawks

NFL Media's Mike Garafolo reported Monday that Warmack has opted out of the season. Warmack, who signed with the Seahawks this spring, also sat out last season 

Maurice Canady, CB, Dallas Cowboys

Garafolo also reported Monday that Canady is opting out of the season as well. 

Marcus Cannon, OL, New England Patriots

Cannon, who battled non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2011, will not play in 2020.

Danny Vitale, FB, New England Patriots

Vitale and his wife recently had a baby, so the fullback will not be participating in the 2020 season.

Dont'a Hightower, LB, New England Patriots

Hightower, who has a two-week-old son, is choosing to protect his family's safety.

Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that Bolden is one of five Patriots to opt-out of the season.

Patrick Chung, S, New England Patriots

Add another Patriot to the list.

Najee Toran, OL, New England Patriots

Make that six Patriots. 

Marquise Goodwin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

The former 49ers receiver announced he will not play this season after the birth of his daughter in February.

Andre Smith, OL, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens announced Smith joined his teammate, De'Anthony Thomas, in opting out this year. 

Star Lotulelei, DT, Buffalo Bills

The Bills announced former first-round draft pick Star Lotulelei has opted out. 

Stephen Guidry, WR, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys annoinced undrafted rookie Stephen Guidry has opted out.

Devin Funchess, WR, Green Bay Packers

Funchess announced on Instagram that he has opted out of the season. 

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Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, Houston Texans

The former Raiders defensive lineman will not play in 2020.

Cole Wick, TE, New Orleans Saints

The veteran tight end will not play this season, according to NFL Media's Tom Pelissero.

Michael Pierce, DT, Minnesota Vikings

Pierce, who signed a three-year, $27 million contract this offseson, is high-risk and has opted out.

Nate Solder, LT, New York Giants

Solder opted out of the season, citing family's health concerns.

Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

The star of Super Bowl LIV has opted out of the season, the Chiefs announced.

Chandler Brewer, C, Los Angeles Rams

Brewer played seven games with the Rams after signing as an undrafted free agent last summer.

“With my history with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I am at high risk and will opt out of playing in the NFL this season,” Brewer said in a statement posted to the team’s website. “I would like to thank the Rams for their support and I look forward to getting back on the field in 2021 and beyond."

Marquise Lee, WR, New England Patriots

The USC product became a father for the first time in February, and cited his newborn daughter as a major factor in his decision.

"This is a big sit-down process I had, with me and my significant other, as far as family goes. The risk factor in which we believe that's going out there, it just wasn't worth it in a sense. Just too many unknowns," Lee told ESPN.com.

C.J. Mosley, LB, New York Jets

The four-time Pro Bowl linebacker is citing family health concerns as his reason for opting out, ESPN's Rich Cimini reported Saturday.

E.J. Gaines, CB, Buffalo Bills

Bills general manager Brandon Beane says the cornerback will sit out the 2020 season. 

Matt LaCosse, TE, New England Patriots

Matt LaCosse is the eighth Patriot to opt out of the season.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]