Quarterbacks always steal the majority of the spotlight in the NFL, so it was understandable that Dak Prescott and Joe Burrow were the two preseason favorites to be named Comeback Player of the Year. Both players sustained brutal season-ending injuries last year, and have put together strong seasons so far.
But neither has been as dominant as Nick Bosa.
The 49ers' star edge rusher tore his ACL in the second game of the season last year. He has responded by not only putting together a season worthy of being the top Comeback Player of the Year candidate, but possibly the Defensive Player of the Year, too. And he's knocking on the door of history while doing so.
Following the 49ers' 31-13 blowout win over the Atlanta Falcons, Bosa now has a career-high 15 sacks on the season. That's the most by a 49er since Aldon Smith's record-setting 19.5 in 2012. Bosa also now has recorded at least one sack in six straight games, which is the longest streak since Smith did so in seven straight games during that 2012 season.
That begs the question, can Bosa break Smith's record with three regular-season games to go? He should have a good chance.
Not only has Bosa been recording sacks week by week, he has been getting after the quarterback at a near automatic rate. His 24 QB pressures are the most of any player over the last three weeks, per Pro Football Focus. If you go back even further, his 31 QB pressures over the last five weeks lead fellow Defensive Player of the Year candidate Micah Parsons by two, per PFF.
On the season, Bosa has 29 QB hits in 14 games, per Pro Football Reference, which are four more than his rookie year when he played 16 games. He shouldn't have too much trouble hitting Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill as well.
Burrow (44) has been sacked the most times by any QB this season. Bosa accounted for two of those in the 49ers' Week 14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Right behind Burrow is Tannehill, who has been sacked 41 times. He was sacked four times Sunday for the second straight week.
That brings us to Week 17 against the Houston Texans. While the Texans are just 3-11 this season, rookie quarterback Davis Mills has been sacked only 25 times. But when you add Tyrod Taylor being sacked 13 times, that's now 38 sacks. That would be tied for third among all QBs if we could morph the two signal-callers into one.
The Texans, like every other team, will put plenty of attention on Bosa. As players like Arden Key continue to improve, Bosa should be able to get to Mills, and perhaps more than once.
Finally, we get to the season finale against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. This is where things get tough. The Rams have done a great job of keeping Matthew Stafford on his feet. He has been sacked only 20 times going into the Rams' matchup with the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday. That's a stark difference from his days in Detroit.
The 49ers' Week 18 game against the Rams could have big playoff implications on the line. The same goes with 49ers franchise history, too. Here's the good news: Bosa did sack Stafford once and had two QB hits in San Francisco's 31-10 Week 10 win against L.A.
Give it an asterisk if you want, with this season being one more game longer than Smith's or anyone else before 2021. Asterisk be damned, Bosa's comeback tour has a real chance of ending with some serious 49ers history. He's tied for the fifth-most sacks in franchise history, and should climb high up the leaderboard in the coming weeks.