5. Nick Bosa
Bosa burst onto the NFL scene with nine sacks during his rookie season before missing his entire second year due to injury. It’s safe to say the 49ers’ defense missed their sack artist when he wasn’t there to anchor their pass rush.
The good news for Bosa and San Francisco is that he’s gotten back to business this season. He uses his elite burst and variety of moves off the edge to dominate opposing tackles tasked with keeping him away from the quarterback.
Bosa is also surprisingly effective against the run despite his lack of bulk at the defensive end position. That’s why he lands higher on this list than some other edge rushers. The 49ers’ defense benefits massively from his defensive versatility.
It’s still a mistake to believe that Bosa’s bread is buttered anywhere other than as a pass rusher. That’s where he is at his best. Any chance the 49ers have of winning a Super Bowl this season hinge on Bosa’s ability to dominate up front.