SANTA CLARA, Calif. — One thing is for sure, the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive linemen said Wednesday: None of them will receive a check for a D-line dinner again.
“Never, never,” Clement Ferrell said with a laugh. “In fact, we are now taking a trip on the D line.”
If there’s been a weird, heavy atmosphere inside the 49ers’ locker room lately — what with their trading for Trey Lance and their inability to work out a deal with their best defensive player — it was quickly cast aside on Wednesday with the news that Nick Bosa had agreed to a five-year deal. Years will pay him an average of $34 million per season.
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It seemed to bring a boost of confidence and lightness.
Kyle Shanahan said he was preparing to dodge reporters’ questions about Bosa and the contract extension when news of the deal broke. Instead of holding a tense press conference, Shanahan couldn’t keep the smile off his face. When asked how many snaps Bosa is expected to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Shanahan’s quick response was: “How many snaps are there in the game?”
He later said that Bosa, who follows a difficult diet and exercise regimen, would have to arrive with a beer belly not to play in Pittsburgh.
“And that’s not in Bosa’s DNA,” he said.
Linebacker Fred Warner said he was near the 49ers cafeteria at lunchtime when he passed Steve Wilks in the hallway. Defensive coordinator Warner grabbed the star linebacker.
“Bossa here,” said Wilkes.
Warner couldn’t contain his excitement.
“I was ecstatic,” he said about an hour later in the 49ers’ locker room. “You should have seen me screaming earlier.”
Warner made a beeline for the locker room, where he gave the initial speech to several of his 49ers teammates.
“I was walking over here and Fred came up screaming,” said defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. “Everyone was looking at their phones and talking about it.”
“Everyone kind of cheered,” linebacker Kyle Goczyk said. “It was a little celebration here.”
Bossa’s resilience, which lasted 44 days, certainly had repercussions.
That meant that new right tackle Colton McKevitz, who will face edge rusher TJ Watt on Sunday, never got to hone his skills against the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Bosa and Watt are similar, MacKevitz said.
He said, “Yes, they are both explosives.” “They play hard. The one thing you see (with Watt) is that he never stops playing.
McKiewicz said he hopes to get some reps against Bosa before the team takes off for Pittsburgh on Friday afternoon.
On the other hand, Bosa’s absence allowed the team’s other defensive ends — newcomer Ferrell and second-year player Drake Jackson — to get plenty of practice reps. One of them will start opposite Bosa in Pittsburgh, perhaps Ferrell, who didn’t miss any practices in the spring or summer.
Even Kyrie Hyder Jr., who is entering his third season with the team, noted that he spent last season at defensive tackle. This year he moved back to the defensive side and appreciated all the snaps he took there.
“This defense is about the actors, I think,” Haider said. “It’s been great for me to get out there and get back into the swing of things. It’s always helpful to get extra reps.”
Although star left tackle Trent Williams always believed the 49ers and Bosa would reach an agreement, doubt about the timing of the process began to creep in Wednesday morning.
“When we got here today, I started to worry about whether we would get it done in enough time to play this weekend,” Williams said.
In a long-established 49ers locker room tradition, Bosa pulls out a chair in Williams’ locker after every game. The two professional players explain what happened during the previous 60 minutes of match time. They are often joined by other stars in their locker room full of them.
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Those meetings with Bosa can now continue on their original schedule, and Williams is thrilled about that.
“I miss that part of it, but I don’t miss blocking it one bit,” Williams said. “I miss being able to pick each other’s brains. Having him here, having him in my corner, me in his corner — I definitely miss it.”
“Even though he seems quiet and monotonous, he’s a big part of this locker room. A lot of people really follow him. We learn a lot from him in terms of how to treat your body, dedication, eating right, sleeping right. He’s one of those people you need Right in the locker room.
Bosa’s locker, full of mail deliveries because its owner hasn’t been around for several months, will soon be reoccupied by one of the best players in the game. Although they joked about the size of Bosa’s salary, none of the players envied him the amount.
“He is not only a teammate, but a friend of mine,” Haider said. “So to see him get paid like that, it’s a blessing. We’re excited for him. He deserves it. He works hard and puts everything on the field, man. So, to see him get what he worked for, we’re excited for him. It’s one thing About the NFL – not everyone always gets their fair dues. So when you see someone like that get their dues, it definitely makes you excited for everyone involved.
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Receiver Brandon Ayuk sure was excited.
“We have a whole team now,” he said.
And in terms of the bigger financial picture, Aiyuk could be in line to receive a big contract from the team in 2024, as he was drafted the year after Bosa and is scheduled to play in 2024 on his fifth-year option. A reporter asked Aiyuk if he was next to get paid, and the recipient smiled softly in response.
“We’ll see,” he said.
Odds and ends
• The 49ers trained without players on Wednesday. Williams had a rest day and inside linebacker John Feliciano was out due to illness.
Every other player on the active roster practiced, including starters George Kittle (groin), Talanoa Hufanga (knee) and Tashaun Gibson Sr. (back), who are listed as limited.
Also limited was return man Ray-Ray McCloud III, who broke his wrist midway through training camp but was playing balls with a brace on his arm early in practice. McCloud said he suffered a similar fracture in his other wrist when he was a junior in college, played with a strong brace all season and didn’t suffer any drops.
“It honestly made me stronger,” he said. “It made me focus more, it made me focus.”
McCloud hopes to face his former team, the Steelers, on Sunday. If he is unable to play, rookie Ronnie Bell will assume the role of return man and backup receiver.
The other injured 49ers players are linebacker Orrin Burks (knee), running back Jordan Mason (foot) and kicker Jake Moody (quad). It was also limited on Wednesday.
Shanahan said he would be surprised if Modi was not fired on Sunday.
“It looks good and I feel good about it,” he said.
• The 49ers named six team captains: Arik Armstead, Kittle, Brock Purdy, Deebo Samuel, Warner and Williams.
Shanahan said he was particularly pleased that Samuel was a leader. He was the team’s best player in 2021 but was in a contract dispute the following season and by his own admission didn’t get back up and playing as well last year.
“I think he was disappointed he didn’t get the captaincy last year,” Shanahan said. “I know he was. For him to be one of those guys, especially how last year ended a little bit, I think it shows how dedicated he is. You guys saw it on the field. And the players feel it strongly, too.”
(Top photo of Trent Williams hugging Nick Bosa: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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