Nick Bosa named NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, joining Sanders, Stubblefield in 49ers history
Nick Bosa sacked quarterbacks an NFL-high 18 ½ times this season, earning the 49ers’ star the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award at Thursday night’s NFL Honors show in Phoenix.
Bosa, 25, is only the third 49ers player to win that honor, joining Deion Sanders (1994) and Dana Stubblefield (1997). Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones and Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons were this season’s other finalists.
In other results involving the 49ers, quarterback Brock Purdy finished third in the Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, coach Kyle Shanahan was second to the Giants’ Brian Daboll for Coach of the Year and Christian McCaffrey was second to Seattle quarterback Geno Smith for Comeback Player of the Year.
Purdy had six first-place votes and 78 points. Winner Garrett Wilson (18/156) won with fewer first-place votes than Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III (19/129). Daboll had 16 firstplace votes and 123 points to beat Shanahan, who had 12 first-place votes and 100 points. McCaffrey had 12 first-place votes and 110 points, with Smith winning comfortably with 28 first-place votes and 171 points DeMeco Ryans, the 49ers defensive coordinator and now head coach of the Houston Texans, was named as the NFL’s Assistant Coach of the Year.
Bosa won in landslide, getting 46 of 50 first-place votes and being named on 49 of 50 ballots. Parsons finished second, followed by Jones and Philadelphia edge rusher Haason Reddick. The only players to get first place votes other than Bosa were Jones (1), Reddick (2) and Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.
The 49ers’ defensive end thanked his family and the 49ers organization in a brief acceptance speech.
“If I’ve learned one thing in life up to this point, whatever end goal you have in mind, it’s not going to be a smooth path,” Bosa said. “There’s going to be times where you’re questioning yourself. But if you stay the course and believe in yourself and take it one day at a time, there’s going to be a light at the end of the tunnel.”
When Bosa won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors three years ago, he was too busy to personally accept the award, seeing how the 49ers were preparing for the Super Bowl. This time, Bosa and the 49ers had their season end in the NFC Championship Game to the Philadelphia Eagles, who will take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s Super Bowl LVII.
“It was an unbelievable season and we have a lot to be proud of and a lot to build on,” Bosa said as the 49ers cleaned out their lockers Jan. 31. “There’s going to be a lot of the same guys back, so that’s exciting. It’s obviously never the same group, which makes the NFL tough.
“You just have to appreciate life and keep living.”
Bosa is collecting multiple awards for his career-best season: All-Pro, Pro Bowl, the 49ers’ Len Eshmont and Matt Hazeltine awards, and defensive player of the year nods from the Pro Football Writers of America and Fox Sports.
Rather than play for $18.9 million on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal, Bosa is expected to land a record-setting contract extension, likely before training camp starts in late July.
“He’s a fantastic football player, he’s a game changer of a football player,” general manager John Lynch said Feb. 1.
The 49ers have a history of rewarding their own, doing so annually since 2018 with market-setting deals for Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Fred Warner, Kyle Juszczyk, Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel.
Bosa said last week that he was not necessarily looking to become the NFL’s highest-paid defender.
“It takes time, it takes patience, it takes persistence, and we’ll have that on our side,” Lynch added. “He’s represented by very good and capable people. And you heard Nick (last week), he never seems to get too excited.
“He’s pretty chill about the whole thing and I think with that in mind and each of us wanting the same thing, we’ll be able to come to an agreement.”