The San Francisco 49ers are up against the Dallas Cowboys in the wild card round, and defensive end Nick Bosa is up for the challenge.
The Cowboys boast two of the best offensive tackles in the NFL, with Tyron Smith and La’el Collins defending both sides of quarterback Dak Prescott. Smith has two All-Pro selections and eight Pro Bowl selections. Collins has none of those accolades, but has been a force to be reckoned with in recent years.
When asked about the two tackles during Thursday’s media availability, Bosa showed respect for his Sunday opponents. But at the same time, Bosa knows full well that he and the Niners pass rush can get home.
“I think they’re both very solid players,” Bosa told NFL.com’s Kevin Patra on Thursday. “Obviously Tyron had a career in the Hall of Fame, I think. And he and [49ers] Trento [Williams] have long been the best tackles in the league. But they are definitely beatable. There’s duct tape on them that’s being slapped and we’re trying to do the same. They’ve definitely been in and out of the lineup a lot this year and in recent years, so the game plan is to get them working.
As Patra reports, the Cowboys tackles have outperformed every tackle duo in the NFL in PFF grades this season.
Even the best linemen get beaten, and it’s top-level pass rushers like Bosa who beat them. But the 49ers star is not alone in his quest to bring down Prescott on Sunday.
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It’s no surprise Bosa is leading the 49ers with 15.5 sacks this season, but he’s seen his fellow edge rushers and lineman add more and more in the latter half of the season, stats at PFR show.
Take Arden Key for example. In the last 10 games of the season, Key collected all 6.5 of his sacks this season and hit the quarterback seven times in the 49ers’ last two games. The former LSU Tiger is going, and at the right time.
Arik Armstead’s production is broader, but it’s hard not to be excited after his dominant performance against the Los Angeles Rams ended the regular season. Armstead totaled 2.5 sacks that San Francisco will hope to spark a series of disruptive performances.
Samson Ebukam also goes one step further. After just one sack in the first 12 games of the season, he finished the last five games of the year with 3.5 sacks. The 49ers will need him and the edge-rushing fleet to continue this surge in production.
On Friday afternoon, the AP released the All-Pro teams. 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel and tackle Trent Williams made the first team, but Bosa missed out on being selected overall.
As Heavy collapsed, Bosa received one vote less than Las Vegas Raiders DE Maxx Crosby despite having 7.5 more sacks and four forced fumbles on Crosby’s null. Pittsburgh Steelers star TJ Watt, Cleveland Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett and Chicago Bears veteran Robert Quinn were the other names selected as edge rushers.
It’s hard to understand why Bosa was snubbed, but San Francisco will only help stoke his fire for this Sunday.