Despite being disappointed by a hamstring injury that cost him most of his first offseason program with the 49ers, rookie pass rusher Nick Bosa doesn’t think it will take long to get back to peak form once he heals ahead of training camp later this summer.
“Probably just a couple weeks of practice,” Bosa said Wednesday. “Just getting those reps over and over again. And you obviously could keep improving from there, and I’m missing a little bit of that now, but I think camp will be plenty of time.”
Bosa suffered a mild hamstring strain May 21 and hasn’t been allowed to practice since. San Francisco completed its mandatory minicamp Wednesday and will give players the customary extended break before training camp begins at the end of July.
For Bosa, the plan is to continue focusing on his flexibility while training with his brother, Joey, a star pass rusher with the Chargers, near their family home at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Nick Bosa will remain with his fellow rookies at the team facility for the next week, continuing his rehab, before returning to the east coast.
Bosa, of course, hasn’t played meaningful football since September during his final game with Ohio State, when he suffered a core muscle tear that required surgery and ended his college career. He was eager to prove to his new club that durability concerns were no longer an issue, though they were the knock on him before San Francisco drafted him second overall in April.
“I was worried when it happened,” Bosa said of the hamstring injury. “I was pretty down on myself, just couldn’t stay on the field. But once I got with the guys and just had some of the older guys come talk me up a little bit, it’s been super helpful. And I think I’m going to be just fine.”
Bosa, who’s quiet and monotone by nature, has been described as an eager pupil by his coaches and teammates. He’s fit in well in the defensive line room despite making insensitive social media posts and “liking” photos with racist captions in high school becoming a prominent story leading up to the draft. Wednesday was the first time he’s spoken publicly since apologizing in his introductory press conference April 26.
“He’s been one of the guys,” coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “He’s not too loud, doesn’t try to stand out, but also doesn’t sit there and hide in the corner. He’s one of the guys. I think he’s fit in very well and I think he’s very attentive in his meetings. I think he enjoys football. He’s not a guy who’s falling asleep in the meetings just because he can’t practice that day.”
Added pass rush specialist Chris Kiffin: “The guys gravitate towards guys like that, the older guys do. ... They see him wanting to come to work and just show up and do the work, so he’s earned the guys’ respect in that manner.”
Unlike a receiver or quarterback, defensive end doesn’t require the same level of chemistry with teammates to succeed. That could make it easier for Bosa to regain his technique quickly that made him the first defensive player drafted.
“I think there’s not as many variables that go into it,” said Shanahan. “You’ve got to beat the guy in front of you and if you don’t know what you’re doing, but you beat the guy in front of you every single time, you’re going to be alright where there’s more to that at another position.”
Bosa didn’t fully agree with that sentiment, though he’s looking forward to the opportunity to participate in padded practices against tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey next month.
“I think just getting enough reps to where you are confident with your moves and you’re reacting quick,” Bosa said. “I think there’s only so many reps you take at D-line before it becomes detrimental to you. And I think I’m going to get plenty during (training) camp. I think I’ll be fine.”