It would take a lot of things going the right way for 49ers EDGE Nick Bosa, but him breaking the single-season sack record in 2022 isn’t out of the question.
The San Francisco 49ers are lucky.
Well, luck is a part of it, as all that went wrong in 2018 ultimately led to the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and that subsequently led to EDGE Nick Bosa, who subsequently turned into one of the NFL’s elite pass-rushers.
Funny how things turn out sometimes.
Bosa came on exceptionally strong a year after tearing his ACL in 2020, setting a career-high with 15.5 sacks and a league-best 21 tackles for a loss, yet somehow he was snubbed by the Associated Press for an All-Pro nomination despite those numbers and reaching his second Pro Bowl in three years.
Forget all that, though. Bosa should have a loftier goal in mind for 2022: setting a brand-new single-season sack record.
Let’s take a look at why he does it this season, as well as admit why it’s too lofty a goal.
Why Nick Bosa sets single-season sack record
There’s always the cliche of a player “being in the best shape of his life” during any offseason program. But for Bosa, him putting a full year between himself and that 2020 ACL tear had to be a great thing, and he responded about as well as anyone could have asked last season with those 15.5 sacks.
Of note, at least since sacks became an official stat in 1982, New York Giants Hall of Famer Michael Strahan set the mark with 22.5 back in 2001, and he held that distinction alone before Pittsburgh Steelers EDGE T.J. Watt tied it last season.
This suggests, especially amid a more pass-happy league nowadays, that the goal of 23 sacks is certainly reachable, particularly with one more regular-season game now in the mix.
On top of that, the Niners did right by Bosa and used their top pick of the 2022 NFL Draft on another pass-rusher, former USC EDGE Drake Jackson, who if he progresses as planned, will take a lot of pressure off the former, freeing up Bosa for more favorable opportunities and making him less a focus of other teams’ blocking schemes.
Staring straight into the likelihood of a hefty contract extension and either wanting to play for it, if it’s not granted between now and Week 1, or justifying it if it’s received, Bosa has no shortage of motivation.
That snub from the All-Pro list has to serve as motivation, too.
Why Nick Bosa can’t quite reach single-season sack record
Let’s be honest here for a moment. Getting north of 20 sacks in a single year is an awfully tough business, and only 13 players in NFL history have been credited with having done so.
To achieve this feat, Bosa would have to average 1.35 sacks per game. And since the minimum a player can achieve in this stat category is half a sack at any one time, it’s fair to argue Bosa would need to record at least two sacks every other game while registering one in the offsetting games.
Too much math? OK, no biggie. The only point you need to understand here is that it’s a rare feat.
Scheme also matters here a bit, too, as San Francisco’s wide-9 alignment, despite its benefits, has subjected Bosa to many a chip block by tight ends and wide receivers, which are far less common in more traditional defensive alignments for 4-3 defensive ends.
Even with the 49ers’ stockpiling of extra defensive ends like Jackson, Bosa isn’t going to automatically find himself going up against weak blockers on a snap-by-snap basis.
However, what’s good here is Bosa is certainly in the discussion when fans and analysts look at players who could eventually surpass the record held by both Watt and Strahan, and the context for the Niners’ pass-rusher to achieve this mark is certainly there, too.