SANTA CLARA — Now that Deebo Samuel has his contract extension, Nick Bosa moves up in the queue and patiently waits his turn.
That time likely won’t come until next year, as general manager John Lynch suggested last week while invoking the 49ers’ history of extensions for homegrown starts.
“I have a lot of faith that when the time comes, it will be smooth,” Bosa said in an exclusive interview with this news organization after Monday’s practice. (The complete question-and-answer session will be featured in an upcoming season-preview magazine.)
Whereas Samuel was entering the final year of his rookie contract before Monday’s top-of-the-market deal (three years, $73.5 million), Bosa is under 49ers control for two more seasons, by way of them exercising his fifth-year option for 2023; it’s a perk teams can use only on first-round picks.
Homegrown stars George Kittle, Fred Warner and now Samuel have received extensions in successive years since Bosa arrived as the No. 2 overall in 2019, when he won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors en route to the Super Bowl.
“I definitely got lucky. I could have been elsewhere,” Bosa said of landing with the 49ers. “I’m just happy, because this organization is so great. They give you all the resources you need.
“They listen to my input. Obviously, you have to get some respect in the building before you can give input, but I have a great relationship with (coach) Kyle (Shanahan) and John, so it’s all good.”
Bosa started every game last season and totaled 15 1/2 sacks, plus four more in the playoffs. That proved not only how well he came back from 2020 knee reconstruction but how deserving he is for a pay raise among the NFL’s elite defensive ends.
Since Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan arrived in 2017, the 49ers have taken care of their homegrown talent, they’ve re-signed elite free agents such as Trent Williams, Kyle Juszczyk and Robbie Gould, and they’ve hung on to their own veterans such as Jimmie Ward and Arik Armstead.
As savvy as the 49ers have been in retaining a championship-caliber roster, such deals aren’t easy to broker, and Bosa knows that, stating: “I know it’s one of the hardest negotiation units up there with Paraag (Marathe, the 49ers’ chief capologist) and all those guys. But I think when they know your value … ”
Lynch and Shanahan are adamant that Bosa is a foundational asset who they’re determined to retain for many years, even if it’s at a record-setting price, which likely will mean in the $30 million per year range. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ T.J. Watt reset the defensive end market last year with a deal (four years, $112 million), surpassing the 2020 extension (five years, $135 million) that the Los Angeles Chargers awarded Joey Bosa, Nick’s older brother.
Perhaps the 49ers’ ignition point for a Bosa deal comes when they move Jimmy Garoppolo and his $24 million salary off the payroll, though a back-loaded deal is still financially feasible now.
“If you look at our history, our cadence, you know most of our deals are done with one year left on the contract,” Lynch said Tuesday. “Nick’s got two years left and so that doesn’t make it impossible, but makes it more likely that it’s something that will be addressed next year.
“No absolutes, you never say never, but here’s what I do know: As long as we’re here, Nick Bosa is going to be a part of the Niners and he’s going to get paid handsomely to do so. So his time’s coming and when it does, he’ll get what he deserves because man, what a special player.”
Shanahan glowed as camp opened about how Bosa looks “completely healthy, ready to go.”
”Have you seen him? It’s like somebody literally etched him. He’s like a sculpture,” Williams said. “You don’t get that way by just waking up, eating cereal and playing a game. … There’s no secret to why he’s as good as he is. Obviously the talent is there, but the work ethic enhances the talent.”
Bosa faced off with Williams on a few plays Monday, one of which was a Trey Lance touchdown pass to Brandon Aiyuk, when Williams kept Bosa on the perimeter.
“Trent kind of gets on my nerves how good he is. Nah, I love him. He’s the best,” Bosa said. “It just definitely humbles you.”
An even more interesting sight came later in practice. Bosa and Williams talked with each other for a couple snaps and shared technique tips.
“To me, it’s a double-edged sword,” Williams said. “If Bosa asks a question, he wants to know more about something. The ‘competitive me’ is hesitant to give him some of my secret moves. At the end of the day, we’re here to make each other better. And he’s the same. We’re very transparent and it’s been that day since I walked in the door.”
The 49ers’ front office prepared itself for the wave of contract extensions by, as Shanahan noted Monday, plotting a quarterback switch to shift their financial liabilities.
“We knew where we were at a quarterback and we knew that was something that could help us a lot solve some of these problems with guys who have played well and who deserve to get paid this much,” Shanahan said. “And we’ve still got more guys. There’s lots of guys on our team that we don’t want to lose, so hopefully we can keep working that stuff out.”
Over 40 players are entering the final year under contract, including these projected starters: free safety Jimmie Ward, right tackle Mike McGlinchey, cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, kicker Robbie Gould, offensive linemen Daniel Brunskill and Jake Brendel, defensive end Samson Ebukam, and linebackers Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair.
More from Bosa’s exclusive interview will appear in the Bay Area News Group’s NFL preview magazine that will be published in the next month.