SANTA CLARA, Calif. — One thing’s for certain, the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive linemen said Wednesday: None of them will ever pick up the check for a D-line dinner again.
“Never, never,” Clelin Ferrell said with a laugh. “In fact, we’re taking a D-line trip now.”
If there had been an odd, heavy vibe inside the 49ers locker room recently — what with their trading Trey Lance and being unable to land a deal with their best defensive player — it was swept aside in a hurry Wednesday with the news Nick Bosa had agreed to a five-year deal that will pay him an average of $34 million a season.
49ers, Bosa agree to record $170 million extension
It seemed to bring both a boost of confidence and levity.
Kyle Shanahan said he was getting ready to dodge reporters’ questions about Bosa and a contract extension when news of the deal broke. Instead of having a tense news conference, Shanahan couldn’t keep the smile off his face. When he was asked how many snaps Bosa could be expected to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Shanahan’s quick reply was, “How many snaps are in the game?”
Later he said Bosa, who has a famously fastidious diet and workout regimen, would have to arrive with a beer belly for him not to play in Pittsburgh.
“And that’s not in Bosa’s DNA,” he said.
Linebacker Fred Warner said he was near the 49ers’ cafeteria at lunchtime when he passed Steve Wilks in the hallway. The defensive coordinator grabbed Warner, the star linebacker.
“Bosa’s here,” Wilks said.
Warner couldn’t contain his excitement.
“I was ecstatic,” he said about an hour later in the 49ers’ locker room. “You should have seen me screaming earlier.”
Warner made a beeline for the locker room, delivering initial word to many of his 49ers teammates.
“I was walking in here and Fred came in yelling,” defensive tackle Javon Hargrave said. “Everybody was looking at their phones and talking about it.”
“Everyone kind of rejoiced,” fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “It was a little celebration in here.”
Bosa’s holdout, which lasted 44 days, certainly had ramifications.
It meant that new right tackle Colton McKivitz, who will face edge rusher T.J. Watt on Sunday, never got to sharpen his skills against the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year this offseason. McKivitz said Bosa and Watt are similar.
“Yeah, they’re both explosive,” he said. “They play hard. The one thing you see (with Watt) is that he’s never quitting on plays.”
McKivitz said he hoped to get a few repetitions against Bosa before the team takes off for Pittsburgh on Friday afternoon.
On the other hand, Bosa’s absence allowed the team’s other defensive ends — newcomer Ferrell and second-year player Drake Jackson — to get plenty of practice repetitions. One of them will start opposite Bosa in Pittsburgh, probably Ferrell, who didn’t miss any practices in the spring or summer.
Even Kerry Hyder Jr., who’s entering his third season with the team, noted he spent last offseason at defensive tackle. This year, he’s back at defensive end and appreciated all the snaps he’s taken there.
“This defense is about reps, I feel like,” Hyder said. “It was great for me to get out there and be back in the swing of things. It’s always a plus to get extra reps.”
Though star left tackle Trent Williams always believed the 49ers and Bosa would reach a deal, doubt about the timing of the process began to creep in Wednesday morning.
“When we got here today, I started to worry about if it would be done in enough time for him to play this weekend,” Williams said.
In a well-established 49ers locker room tradition, Bosa pulls up a chair at Williams’ locker after every game. The two All-Pros break down what transpired over the preceding 60 minutes of game time. They’re often joined by other stars in a locker room brimming with them.
Postgame locker room summits with Trent Williams and Nick Bosa: A 49ers fixture
Those summits with Bosa can now continue along their original schedule, and Williams is thrilled about that.
“I miss that part of it, but I don’t miss blocking him one bit,” Williams said. “I do miss being able to pick each other’s brain. Having him here, him being in my corner, me being in his corner — definitely miss him.
“As laid-back and monotone as he seems, he’s a big part of this locker room. A lot of people really follow him. We learn a lot from him as far as how to treat your body, the dedication, the eating right, the sleeping right. He’s one of those guys that you really need in the locker room.”
Bosa’s locker, overflowing with mail deliveries because its owner hadn’t been present for several months, would soon be reoccupied by one of the best players in the game. And though they joked about the size of Bosa’s paychecks, none of the players begrudged him the amount.
“He’s not only a teammate, he’s a friend of mine,” Hyder said. “So seeing him get paid like that, that’s a blessing. We’re excited for him. He deserves it. He works his ass off and he put it all out on the field, man. So to see him get what he’s worked for, we’re excited for him. One thing about the NFL — everyone doesn’t always get their just dues. So when you see somebody like that get their dues, man, it makes you definitely excited for everyone involved.”
49ers over/unders: Brock Purdy’s INT count; how to adjust Nick Bosa’s sack total?
Receiver Brandon Aiyuk certainly was excited.
“We’ve got a full squad now,” he said.
As far as the bigger financial picture, Aiyuk might be in line for a big contract from the team in 2024, because he was drafted the year after Bosa and is scheduled to play 2024 on his fifth-year option. A reporter asked Aiyuk whether he would be the next to be paid, and the receiver smiled softly in response.
“We’ll see,” he said.
Odds and ends
• The 49ers practiced without two players Wednesday. Williams got a rest day and interior offensive lineman Jon Feliciano was out with an illness.
Also limited was return man Ray-Ray McCloud III, who broke his wrist midway through training camp but was fielding punts with a brace on his arm early in practice. McCloud said he suffered a similar fracture to his other wrist as a college junior, played with a hard brace all season and didn’t have any drops.
“It honestly made me stronger,” he said. “It made me concentrate more, made me focus.”
McCloud is hoping to face his former team, the Steelers, on Sunday. If he can’t play, rookie Ronnie Bell would take over as the return man and backup receiver.
Shanahan said he’d be surprised if Moody doesn’t kick Sunday.
“He’s looking good and I feel good about him,” he said.
Shanahan said he was especially happy Samuel was a captain. He was the team’s MVP in 2021 but went through a contract dispute the next offseason and by his own admission didn’t prepare and play as well last year.
“I think he was disappointed he didn’t (get captain) last year,” Shanahan said. “I know he was. For him to be one of those guys, especially how last year ended a little bit, I think it shows how dedicated he’s been. You guys have seen it out on the field. And the players feel it strongly also.”
(Top photo of Trent Williams hugging Nick Bosa: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)