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Friday, September 29, 2023

49ers’ Nick Bosa spies first sack of season against Giants’ Daniel Jones

SANTA CLARA — Nick Bosa is sincerely excited to see the 49ers’ fans in Thursday’s home opener. With no sacks through two games, he sounds even more pumped to see New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones in attendance, particularly if he’s holding the ball in the pocket.

“It’s going to be pretty much the opposite of what we just did with Stafford,” Bosa said, referring to Sunday’s 30-23 win against the Los Angeles Rams’ quick-throwing Matthew Staford. “(Jones) definitely can hold it a little bit and we just have to keep him in the pocket.

“He’s going to try to get out any chance he gets. So we’ll just try to close in on him, be good in our rush lanes, and we could have a good day.”

Bosa could use a great day — or night, as kickoff is at 5:15 p.m. — to springboard his season, after missing training camp and the preseason before signing the NFL’s richest contract for a non-quarterback only two weeks ago.

Maybe he’ll deliver like he did three games into his rookie season, when he seized the “Monday Night Football” spotlight at home and posted two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery against the Cleveland Browns and nemesis Baker Mayfield.

“It’s going to come,” defensive coordinator Steve Wilks said of Bosa’s breakout potential, though not necessarily this game. “You saw the effort there (last Sunday) and you saw the push across the board with those guys. Stafford was getting the ball out so fast. It’s only a matter of time, a matter of time.”

Jones is taking 2.9 seconds to throw through the Giants’ two games, including a 40-0 loss to Dallas in which he got sacked seven times. He keyed their comeback from a 20-0 hole Sunday to defeat the host Arizona Cardinals 31-28. (In comparison, Stafford is averaging 2.65 seconds a throw, and the 49ers’ Brock Purdy is at 2.66 seconds.)

“I think there’s a stat: If you can keep (Jones’ completion rate) under 60 percent, he’s 0-9. So if we can pressure him a lot and keep his completion percentage down, we have a good chance.”

Jones actually is 1-14 when completing less than 60 percent of his passes, including a 2020 home loss to the 49ers (53.1 percent, two sacks) and a 2020 win at Cincinnati (59.3 percent). Bosa missed that game, having sustained a season-ending knee injury the previous week against the New York Jets.

What makes Jones especially dangerous is his rushing ability, whether he’s scrambling or keeping the ball on zone-read runs. The 49ers, with their aggressive pass rushers, have not fared well in recent seasons against mobile quarterbacks.

Bosa is aware. To help his recovery and soreness after Sunday’s 63-snap workload, Bosa has done pool therapy, lifted weights, as well as “just hydrate and eat a lot.” He had three quarterback hits and helped pressure Stafford into a pair of second-half interceptions, before a 49ers-dominant crowd at SoFi Stadium.

“Our fans are awesome on the road but they’re awesome here, as well. I’m excited for the first home game of the year,” Bosa said. “We haven’t seen our fans yet. I’m sure the defense will be called out (in pregame introductions), so it’ll be a lot of fun, in prime time.”


Running back Saquon Barkley’s ankle sprain may not sideline him Thursday night, as initially expected after his exit from Sunday’s comeback win over the host Arizona Cardinals. “I wouldn’t count on that. Just not yet,” coach Brian Daboll told reporters Tuesday from the Giants’ setup in Arizona. “I’m not saying that he’s out yet. He’s a quick healer. I’m not saying he’s in, he’s out. We’re going to take it all the wayup with him to Thursday, but he feels a lot better today. I just talked to him.”

Wilks spoke as if he’s not expecting Barkley to play, but that the offensive scheme will remain consistent. “Barkley, its disappointing he’s out, but all those guys are capable,” Wilks said. “When you look at their offense, the zone read, that to me is their run game, and also (Jones) scrambling, buying time in the pocket and doing things with his feet.”

A potential replacement to Barkley is Matt Breida, who played for the 49ers from 2017-19. “We definitely have a good familiarity with him, and we’ll be ready,” Bosa said of Breida, who led their 2018 team in rushing before getting traded to Miami in 2020 for a fifth-round draft pick (right tackle Colton McKivitz).


Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has not missed a game since his 2020 rookie season, and his left shoulder might not keep him sidelined Thursday night. Aiyuk was slated to practice in limited fashion during Tuesday night’s light walkthrough, as was the case with cornerback Ambry Thomas (knee).


In-season signings of veteran cornerbacks haven’t panned out well for the 49ers, and they’re hoping the versatile Anthony Brown can be an exception, after knee injuries struck backups Sam Womack and Thomas in the past week. Womack went on Injured Reserve on Saturday, clearing a roster spot for Brown’s addition Tuesday. Other cornerbacks the 49ers added in recent seasons: Brian Allen (2020), Jamar Taylor (2020), Josh Norman (2021), Dre Kirkpatrick (2021) and Janoris Jenkins (2022).

Brown played the past seven seasons with the Cowboys, a 69-start tenure that ended with his Achilles tear last Dec. 4. He started this season on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad before getting released Thursday. Brown said he’s feeling good and “ready to work” after a 10-month recovery from a traditional Achilles repair.

Five years ago, the 49ers brought in a veteran cornerback who panned out and did so following Achilles repair: Richard Sherman. As Brown noted: “He came back, too. And he came here. And they went to the Super Bowl (the following year).”

In the 2021 49ers’ wild-card playoff win at Dallas, Brown made a fourth-quarter interception of a Jimmy Garoppolo pass that led to the Cowboys’ final touchdown in a 23-17 loss. Two weeks before that game, Brown committed four pass-interference penalties in an overtime loss to the Raiders on Thanksgiving. “It’s crazy, just going from the Cowboys, a very big traditional franchise, and coming over to San Fran, another big, traditional franchise,” Brown added. “It’s a blessing, I’m glad to be here, and I’m ready to work.”


Levi’s Stadium had grass installed Monday and it was still being manicured ahead of Tuesday’s practice. That leaves little time for rookie kicker Jake Moody to get acclimated to it, something that may not happen until pregame warmups. “Yeah, we’ll see how the grass is on Thursday night,” said Moody, who’s tied for second among the NFL scoring leaders after making all of his field goals (six) and point-after kicks (six).

The 49ers have not played at home since preseason games Aug. 19 (Denver Broncos) and Aug. 25 (Los Angeles Chargers). In the past two months, Levi’s Stadium has hosted sold-out concerts for Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran, the latter of whom attracted a stadium-record crowd of 77,000 on Saturday night.


Count Daboll among those praising the 49ers’ cast after their 2-0 start — and roster creation under Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch since 2017. “It’s a team full of Pro Bowlers or All-Pros, whether it’s McCaffrey, Deebo, Aiyuk, Bosa, Hargrave, Warner. The list goes on and on,” Daboll said. “I’d say their team is well constructed. There a lot of challenges with this team in a number of areas.”


When Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb sustained a season-ending knee injury Monday night, it “brings things into perspective,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “That’s as gruesome as an injury as it gets, and it’s honestly like a routine play: a guy goes low to tackle a big, physical running back, and something like that happens. I don’t know if there’s anything that could have been done differently in that situation.

“Guys are going to be like, ‘Why did the defender go so low on him?’ Or if you go high, ‘Why did he hit him in the head?’ Things are happening so quick out there. It’s not something that, you can’t slow down; if you do, you’re going to get hurt. You’ve got to continue to see ways to help protect the players, but that’s just a really unfortunate situation.”

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