SANTA CLARA — Nick Bosa makes a comfortable living in hot pursuit of quarterbacks.
The one that absolutely, positively has to be off-limits: Trey Lance, the 49ers’ starter who’s supplanted Jimmy Garoppolo this year.
“He’s in probably the best position he could be as a first-year (starting) quarterback,” Bosa said Friday at training camp. “With a defense like us and a good O-line and a bunch of weapons – (Brandon) Aiyuk, Deebo (Samuel), George (Kittle), and everybody else.
“He has all the help. He just needs to – um, I’m not going to give him advice like I’m the QB coach – but if he doesn’t make big mistakes, then we’re going to be in good shape.”
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – JULY 28: San Francisco 49er’s Nick Bosa (97) runs during a practice session at the 49er’s practice facility at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, July 28, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)
Lance’s mistakes will predictably come after playing essentially 2 1/2 games as Garoppolo’s understudy last season and attempting 71 passes (41 completions, five touchdowns).
Lance had two passes intercepted as a rookie, and that’s the total he’s yielded after back-to-back, could-have-been-sharper practices. Jimmie Ward picked him off Thursday, and fellow safety Talanoa Hufanga notched Friday’s interception of Lance.
Bosa, meanwhile, took Friday’s practice off as a maintenance day, though he’s finally healthy for a camp (knock on wood, as they’re only three practices into a five-week preseason).
“I’m real excited with Nick (on Thursday) getting some team reps and jumping in there, and he hasn’t got that since he’s been here,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “The first year, I think he got hurt in like the first week here (high-ankle sprain in their 10th practice). The second year, he got hurt, too, (leg-muscle strain), but then he hurt his ACL in the second game, so he didn’t get to practice at all last year until Week One.
“And this is really the first time, I see him completely healthy, ready to go, and I think his game can even get better the more he practices.”
Bosa routinely beat the 49ers’ backup offensive tackles through two practices, and he’s looking forward to Monday’s matchup with All-Pro Trent Williams, who joined offensive line drills Friday after missing the past two days to attend his child’s birth.
Bosa agreed that is a “completely different” camp for him, which he primed himself for by sticking to his offseason protocol of working out in his native Fort Lauderdale with his big brother, Joey, a defensive end for the Los Angeles Chargers.
“Just being able to get out there and have my body adapt to playing football, it’s been the most enjoyable camp that I’ve been a part of, because I feel good, which makes everything a lot better,” said Bosa, adding that the defenders’ full-speed, hit-or-be-hit mentality still leaves his neck, back, shoulder and hip flexors sore.
Shanahan commended how well Bosa is able to peel off his hard-charging rush before clocking the QB.
“He’s one of the best guys at getting there and not running into anybody,” Shanahan said. “So that’s the way most of the better athletes are. If you had 22 guys out there like that, it’d be much easier not to get guys hurt.”
Added Bosa: “Sometimes that creates bad habits. Over the years, I’ve tried to get a little closer to him and at least think about what I’m going to do when I get there, maybe reach for the ball. Obviously, can’t hit him. He’s very important to the team, so you have to stay away.”
Bosa noted that the 49ers’ defensive line depth is filled with the most starting-caliber players in his short tenure, and Arik Armstead’s knee sprain from Wednesday’s practice is a reminder that the rotation might never be deep enough.
“In ’19, we obviously had a lot of starters. And last year, we had a great year,” Bosa said. “But just the depth of starting-caliber players, it’s something I haven’t seen yet with this team, and our secondary is playing as well as I’ve seen, which is going to make our job much easier.”