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San Francisco 49ers need him for season opener, but Nick Bosa should stay on sideline until he gets richest deal

nick bosa
Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Bosa, it seems, won’t be joining the San Francisco 49ers until he’s the NFL’s highest-paid defensive lineman.

Good for him.

He’s earned the right to secure a bag worth more than $31.6 million a year, which is Aaron Donald’s average salary on his three-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams

Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt signed a four-year, $112 million deal in 2021, and Bosa’s brother, Joey, signed a five-year, $135 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers. Watt’s deal averages $28 million, and Joey Bosa’s averages $27 million.

Nick Bosa had a league-leading 18.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss last season and was named Defensive Player of the Year as the 49ers advanced to the NFC Championship game.

His holdout has reached Day 42; the season begins Sunday against Pittsburgh. Preparation for that game begins Wednesday. If a deal isn’t done in the next 48 hours, it’s hard to envision Bosa playing.

Quiet progress in deal for Nick Bosa?

nick bosa
Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

49ers General Manager John Lynch provided a few details about negotiations.

“The good thing is we’ve promised each other, both sides, that we’re going to keep this thing in-house, and I want to hold to that,” Lynch told the 49ers website. “That’s important to me. It’s important to them.

“And so I’m just going to try to say as little as possible and that we’re working hard to bring it to resolution.”

Just so you know, San Francisco is 5-10 when Bosa doesn’t play.

Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan aren’t concerned about Bosa’s conditioning. His father was a former NFL player, and his older brother, Joey, is among the league’s highest-paid defensive ends.

Work ethic and training have never been an issue for the Bosa brothers. That said, there’s a difference between great shape and great football shape. But whenever the two sides agree to terms, Lynch recognizes it may take a little time for Bosa to get back into game shape.

“I don’t care how many years you played; if I was in year 15, which I was, being in those meeting rooms, getting acclimated to football again, I prided myself [on that],” Lynch said. “I didn’t look like Nick Bosa. I didn’t have abs like that, but I prided myself on being in better shape than everyone else. But there’s football shape, there’s things like that.”

“I think he’s been in that shape since he was probably 2 1/2 years old, and he continues to work at it,” Shanahan told reporters. “…It’s just when he gets here, and making sure he’s in football shape, and we don’t do anything that jeopardizes not having him later.

“I mean, I’m going to do everything I can [to see] that he plays against Pittsburgh, but I can’t make that decision until you see a guy; you see him out there.”

49ers’ pass rush with Nick Bosa

Until Bosa returns, the 49ers’ pass rush from the edge will be suspect.

Pass-rushing linebacker Drake Johnson and defensive linemen Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant, and Kerry Hyder combined for seven sacks last season.

So the 49ers need to get a deal done, although they do have some cap issues since Deebo Samuel, Trent Williams, Arik Armstead, Fred Warner, George Kittle, JaVon Hargrove, Charvsrious Ward, Christian McCaffrey, and Brandon Aiyuk are each scheduled to count at least $14 million against the 2024 cap.

That’s not Bosa’s concern. The team’s salary-cap issues should never concern a player.

Bosa is 25, and he has a year left on his rookie deal that pays him $17 million a year.  This deal will cover the prime of his career, and it needs to reflect that.

Until it does, don’t expect Bosa to report.

Jean-Jacques Taylor is an NFL Insider for Sportsnaut and the author of the upcoming book “Coach Prime“, with Deion Sanders. Follow him on Twitter.