After signing a five-year, $170 million extension on Wednesday, ending his extended holdout, San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa is preparing to play Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I’m confident,” Bosa said, via Nick Wagoner of ESPN. “I’m not sure what (coach) Kyle (Shanahan’s) plan is, but I would be up for (a) normal workload, for sure.”
Bosa became the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history with an average salary of $34 million per year, surpassing Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s $31.7 million.
“It was unbelievable,” Bosa said on Friday, via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. “I’ve been waiting for that moment. It was probably one of the biggest things I’ve been excited for is to walk in the building and see all the guys. I know they had my back. Players have each other’s backs in this league because it’s a business at the end of the day. It was very cool to see everybody.”
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But now the Niners and Bosa, who was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice and fully participated Friday, must turn their attention to ensuring the workload he receives Sunday matches what he’s physically ready for after missing all of training camp.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, head coach Kyle Shanahan said he expected Bosa to play Week 1 and joked that the reigning AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year only wouldn’t take the field if he showed up with a “beer belly.” Seeing Bosa during the last two practices made it clear that wasn’t the case after a long holdout.
“He looked exactly how we were expecting him to look,” Shanahan said Friday. “Looks in real good shape. Looks ready to go. We got an idea how we’re going to use him and I think he’ll do all right.”
With a quick turnaround for game action, how many snaps will Bosa play against the Steelers?
“It’s hard to say,” defensive coordinator Steve Wilks said Thursday, per the team transcript. “I think each player’s different, and I say that in a meaningful way, he’s different. So it is not really trying to put a limit on what he can do, it’s just trying to get a feel and once we get into the game and then go from there.”
However much Bosa plays, the pass rusher can now shift his focus fully to football after inking a new deal heading into his fifth season.
“I’m definitely thinking it’s going to be a weight off my shoulders,” Bosa said. “And just be able to really not think about all the negative thoughts that come along with playing this game and be free out there and play for one reason — to win games.”
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