To fit in in the 49ers’ locker room, all Nick Bosa has to do is make good on the promise of his talent.
That’s what veteran cornerback Richard Sherman believes, even as Bosa enters the NFL facing questions about his past on social media, which included writing posts he recently called “insensitive” and “liking” Instagram pictures with racist and homophobic captions while he was in high school.
“One thing about football is that nobody really cares what you say if you can play,” Sherman told The Bee on Monday following a speaking event for the Body Armor sports drink, in which Sherman is an investor. “At the end of the day, I think a guy that has played with African Americans his whole life, not saying he can’t be racist, but they know how to maneuver around African Americans.”
Sherman is one of San Francisco’s most outspoken players on social issues and has publicly supported former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his protest against racial discrimination and police brutality. Kaepernick was called a “clown” by Bosa on Twitter, for which Bosa apologized when he was introduced by the 49ers last month. Sherman is one of the first veterans to comment on Bosa’s addition since he was drafted.
Bosa said he looks forward to joining the NFL with a clean slate — and hopes his new surroundings can lead to him growing as a person. But that won’t guarantee an easy ingratiation into San Francisco’s locker room, which includes other Kaepernick supporters and former teammates.
“When you’re at Ohio State, it’s not like Ohio State’s an all-white school. So I don’t think that’s going to ever be an issue,” Sherman said. “I think, at the end of the day, your beliefs are your beliefs … but when you’re in the building and you’re a football player and you’re a teammate, you handle yourself accordingly. And I think he understands that.”
John Lynch, the 49ers’ general manager, noted that Bosa was a beloved teammate in college, which was evident when he met Bosa during an Ohio State practice leading up to the Rose Bowl. Bosa had been away from the team for months as he prepared for the draft and rehabbed a core muscle injury that required surgery. The ailment ended his final college season three games in.
“The entire practice stopped,” Lynch said, “and every player, every coach, every student manager on that team stopped and embraced Nick Bosa.”
Added Bosa: “I just love all those guys, so to see them again was great.”
Sherman expects something similar with Bosa now that he’s in the NFL, particularly if he can help solve the 49ers’ longstanding issue with bothering opposing quarterbacks.
“It’s not like something where guys are like, ‘Hey man, what about what you said?’ No. No. If he can play, he can play. If he can’t play, he won’t be here,” Sherman said. “But at the end of the day, that’s all that matters in football. Is he getting sacks on Sunday? Is he helping our team? Is he being a good teammate? Those are things that matter.
“Now, if he’s a bad teammate, that’s something we’ll address.”
Sherman also confirmed he had surgery in January to remove sutures put in place to fix his torn Achilles’ suffered in 2017. He expects to be more effective in his second season with San Francisco, even at 31, because the sutures caused discomfort last season. He missed two games after appearing in 103 consecutive regular-season contests with the Seahawks before the injury.
“I’m much healthier. I was kind of out there on one leg,” he said.