SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers’ offseason pursuit of a revamped pass rush reached its apex Thursday, when they used the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft on Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa.
Bosa, widely regarded as the draft’s top edge rusher and one of its top two players overall, is the second significant addition to the 49ers’ outside pass rush this offseason. He joins defensive end Dee Ford, whom the Niners acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2020 second-round pick in March and signed to a five-year, $85.5 million contract.
“It’s a new journey. I’m so excited to finally be back on a team,” Bosa told ESPN after he was drafted. “This is all the work I’ve put in since I was seven years old, and it’s finally here.
“I want to get with my team and kick some butt on the field. I’m so excited to go to work.”
The Niners have used their top pick on a defensive lineman in four of the past five drafts. Bosa joins Arik Armstead (2015), tackle DeForest Buckner (2016) and Solomon Thomas (2017) in that group.
In adding Bosa and Ford in one offseason, the 49ers made it clear that they didn’t want to settle for improving their pass rush. They wanted to supercharge it.
Niners general manager John Lynch said before the draft that the “opportunity to be dominant at something” was attractive to the team.
“Instead of, ‘We’re pretty good here,’ an opportunity to be dominant,” Lynch said. “I think we’re getting close to having that opportunity. Whether that happens, that’s up to the guys. We’ve got to go make that happen.”
The Bosa family has a history of first-round draft picks.
Nick’s brother, Joey, went third overall to the Chargers in 2016, and his father, John, went 16th to the Dolphins in 1987. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Bosas are the second family with a father and two sons picked in the first round in NFL history, joining Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning.
Bosa is the fourth player the Niners have taken in the top three in the common draft era, joining Thomas and quarterbacks Alex Smith (2005) and Steve Spurrier (1967).
Upon arrival in San Francisco, Bosa will be expected to team with Ford to form an outside pass rush similar to the one the Chargers have with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Nick Bosa will have plenty of proving to do after appearing in just three games for the Buckeyes in 2018 before suffering a season-ending core muscle injury.
Bosa’s 21.2 pressure percentage ranked second in FBS among defensive linemen with at least 60 pass rushes last season. In his two-plus collegiate seasons, he had 17.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles in 26 games.
As part of the pre-draft process, the 49ers spent time sorting through some of the questions that come with Bosa, including his injury history and controversial social-media practices.
Bosa suffered a torn ACL as a senior in high school, in addition to the core muscle issue at Ohio State.
His approach to social media has come under scrutiny. In a 2016 tweet, Bosa referred to former Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick as a “clown,” and subsequent tweets garnered attention for his conservative-leaning political views and support of President Donald Trump.
In the lead-up to the draft, Bosa mostly scrubbed his accounts of his most polarizing posts and subsequently told ESPN in a recent interview that he “had to” because “there is a chance I might end up in San Francisco.”
At pre-draft media availability on Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee, Bosa told reporters that he is “not really worried about Twitter anymore.”
“I think the people who know me know who I am,” he said. “And I’m going to keep my opinions to myself from now on.”
For their part, the 49ers said they did their diligence on all things Bosa in the months leading up to the draft. He spent time in the Bay Area as one of the team’s 30 allotted pre-draft visits, and a Niners contingent had lunch with him in Columbus around Ohio State’s pro day.
San Francisco also did extensive work talking to coaches and staff members who worked with Bosa.
“I think we try to be as thorough in the process as we can,” Lynch said Monday. “That is something we look at, but we also look at what kind of teammate is he? What do his teammates think about him? When I say him, I’m speaking of any prospect.
“In particular, when you’re talking about guys who are going to go that high, you’ve vetted these guys in every way. You try to look at things like that. What kind of member of your organization would this guy be, in every respect? You look at it all.”
Clearly, the 49ers came out of the process confident about both the player and the person they’re getting in Bosa.
“Nick’s a heckuva player,” Lynch said this week. “He’s one we really enjoyed studying throughout this process.”
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