The San Francisco 49ers are taking on the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round and defensive end Nick Bosa is ready for the challenge.
The Cowboys boast two of the best offensive tackles in the NFL, with Tyron Smith and La’el Collins protecting either side of quarterback Dak Prescott. Smith has two All-Pro selections and eight Pro Bowl selections. Collins doesn’t have any of those accolades but has been a force in the past couple of years.
When asked about the two tackles during media availability on Thursday, Bosa showed respect for his Sunday adversaries. But at the same time, Bosa knows for a fact that he and the Niners pass rush can get home.
“I think they’re both very solid players,” Bosa said Thursday per NFL.com’s Kevin Patra. “Obviously, Tyron’s had a Hall of Fame career, I think. And him and [49ers] Trent [Williams] have been the best tackles in the league for a long time. But they’re definitely beatable. There’s tape on them getting beat, and we’re trying to do the same. They’ve definitely been in and out of the lineup a lot this year and the past years, so, the game plan is to make them work.”
As Patra reports, the Cowboys tackles has outranked every tackle duo in the NFL this season in PFF grades.
Even the best lineman get beat, and it’s top-level pass rushers like Bosa who beat them. But the 49ers star isn’t alone in his mission to bring down Prescott on Sunday.
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49ers Pass Rush Stepping Up
It’s no surprise Bosa leads the 49ers with 15.5 sacks this season, but he has seen his fellow edge rushers and lineman start to contribute more and more in the back half of the season, per the stats at PFR.
Take Arden Key for example. In the final ten games of the season, Key totaled all 6.5 of his sacks this season and hit the quarterback seven times in the 49ers’ last two games. The former LSU Tiger is going off, and at the right time.
Arik Armstead’s production has been more spread out, but it’s hard not to be excited after his dominant showing against the Los Angeles Rams to close out the regular season. Armstead totaled 2.5 sacks, which San Francisco will hope ignites a string of disruptive performances.
Samson Ebukam is also kicking it up a notch. After just one sack in the first 12 games of the season, he finished with 3.5 sacks in the final five games of the year. The 49ers will need him and the edge rushing fleet to continue that uptick in production.
Bosa Misses Out on All-Pro
On Friday afternoon, the AP released the All-Pro teams. 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel and tackle Trent Williams made the first-team, but Bosa missed out on being selected altogether.
As Heavy broke down, Bosa received one less vote than Las Vegas Raiders DE Maxx Crosby despite having 7.5 more sacks and four forced fumbles to Crosby’s zero. Pittsburgh Steelers star T.J. Watt, Cleveland Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett and Chicago Bears veteran Robert Quinn were the other names selected as edge rushers.
It’s hard to see why Bosa was snubbed, but San Francisco will help it only fuels his fire for this Sunday.