Defense end Nick Bosa has been among the San Francisco 49ers’ most crucial players ever since they selected him with the No. 2 overall choice in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The only thing that has changed in the more than four years since is that Bosa has found a way to increase his significance to the Niners’ success. Bosa signed a five-year, $170 million contract on Wednesday that includes $122.5 million in guarantees, eliminating any uncertainty about just how important he is to the 49ers. Bosa is now the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history now, thanks to the contract.
The 2023 49ers needed Bosa back immediately after a 43-day holdout that went longer than many anticipated. There is a solid case to be made that Bosa, the current NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is the player the Niners can least afford to lose. Bosa gives the Niners a chance to win the Super Bowl. Well, it’s much harder to imagine without him.
San Francisco is 43-17 in games Bosa has played in since joining the league in 2019 and 5-10 in games he hasn’t, including postseason games. When Bosa is on the field, the 49ers have the second-lowest pressure rate in the league (25%) and the highest pressure rate in the league (32%). He is expected to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
The worth of Bosa goes beyond the here and now. Bosa, who is currently under contract through the 2028 season, is not only the team’s best defender but also the one tasked with bridging the gap between San Francisco’s current star-studded core and an up-and-coming squad that wants to extend their championship window past this year.
Bosa has accumulated 43 sacks, 156 tackles, 56 tackles for loss, and 106 quarterback hits in just 51 regular-season games, earning him the DPOY, Defensive Rookie of the Year, three Pro Bowl berths, and first-team All-Pro honors. For opposing quarterbacks and offensive linemen, what is the terrifying reality? On October 23, Bosa will be 26.
Bosa is thus just beginning his prime. His work ethic and discipline are frequently praised by teammates and coaches, so there is no doubt that he will rejoin the squad in top shape and be prepared to contribute right away. They believe Bosa might be even better after a career year for the same reason.
Bosa and linebacker Fred Warner, who will turn 27 on November 19, are the team’s two most notable younger players on long-term contracts due to their relative youth and their long-term contracts. Whether Bosa and Warner can continue to produce at high levels on the field while serving as role models for new Niners joining the organization will determine whether the 49ers continue to be successful in the years to come.
Although they still have plenty of good football ahead of them, veterans like Williams (35), defensive tackles Javon Hargrave (30) and Arik Armstead (29), tight end George Kittle (29), fullback Kyle Juszczyk (32), receiver Deebo Samuel (27) and running back Christian McCaffrey (27) have probably already signed the biggest contracts of their careers, at least in San Francisco.
The Niners will eventually need to reallocate those resources to some of their rising young players, potentially within the next couple of years. The Niners would like to see players like safety Talanoa Hufanga (23), linebacker Dre Greenlaw (26), wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (25) and, most importantly, quarterback Brock Purdy (23) advance into bigger roles.
Bosa won’t be expected to perform any differently when he rejoins the 49ers after nearly six weeks away and with the biggest deal in team history in tow. Warner still has the emotional and vocal leadership obligations.
For the next six seasons, Bosa’s teammates will be able to observe what it takes to not only keep the Niners competitive but also to ensure the financial future of their families since he sets the bar so high for his colleagues.