As an NFL pass-rushing star who received a big contract, former defensive lineman Chris Long knows a little about the kind of frustration the 49ers’ Nick Bosa must be feeling, considering the former star defensive player of the year comes into the week 8 with his own big contract and just 2.5 sacks to his credit.
Long received one in 2012 Four-year, $60 million extension from the Rams after breaking out with 13.0 sacks in 2011. The next year he played well but was unable to post big sack numbers and only had 7.5 sacks through the first 14 weeks of the season before recording four sacks in the final two weeks.
Of course, shortly before the start of the regular season, Bosa signed the largest contract ever given to a non-quarterback after holding out all summer. The deal was worth it $170 million over five years. But the contract was also a bit of a curse. He has always received special attention from offensive players, but this season that attention has been increased.
“The pressure on Nick Bosa to perform must be enormous at the moment,” Long said in his “Green light with Chris Long” Podcast. “It doesn’t have to be that way, that’s it – I know because I was the big contract guy. Not to his extent… He has two and a half sacks and we all know that sacks aren’t the be-all and end-all. And they are very dependent. (Minnesota) took him and gave him special attention.”
Nick Bosa 49ers contract pays him $13.6 million per sack
Bosa went from 9.0 sacks as a rookie to 15.5 in his second season in 2021 (he sat out all but two games in 2021). Last year, Nick Bosa led the NFL with 18.5 sacks, putting him into the season in position to command such a historic contract.
There’s more to being a solid pass rusher than just putting up sacks. Pro Football Focus rated him at 92.8the second-best mark among all pass rushers in the NFL. According to Pro-Football Reference.com, Bosa has seven quarterback hurries and 12 knockdowns. That puts him at 17 runs, which would be the second best of his career, and 29 knockdowns, which would be the highest of his career.
Coach Kyle Shanahan doesn’t believe Bosa suffered any loss of conditioning due to the pre-contract suspension.
“I look at how people move and whether they look fit or as talented as they did the year before, and he looks the same.” Shanahan said this week. “I don’t see anything else, I know the results weren’t there. He missed a few chances, he had a few chances that he could have easily taken advantage of and we left the number one open too quickly where he shouldn’t have been.”
“Where’s Nick Bosa?”
The support from PFF and Shanahan is likely some small consolation for Nick Bosa given the pressure on him due to his 49ers contract. Because as Long noted, the majority of NFL fans don’t pay attention to PFF’s numbers or Shanahan’s explanations.
They just expect big sack numbers.
“Nick Bosa must be feeling this, though, because every breathless fan in the NFL looks at that statistic and asks themselves, ‘Where is Nick Bosa?'” Long said. “The unfair thing about making that much money – or maybe it’s fair – is that people want to see that number, otherwise you can’t justify the money.
“And I know he’s going through it. I remember slumps where I thought it was affecting my mental health when I saw that number and I know he’s going through that.”
Sean Deveney is a veteran sports reporter who covers the NBA and NFL for Heavy.com. He has been writing for Heavy since 2019 and has more than two decades of NBA reporting experience, including 17 years as a senior NBA reporter for the Sporting News. Deveney is the author of seven nonfiction books, including “Fun City,” “Before Wrigley Were Wrigley,” and “Facing Michael Jordan.” More about Sean Deveney