Former Ohio State standout defensive end Nick Bosa will miss the entire preseason with a high ankle sprain, according to general manager John Lynch.
The diagnosis and timetable for return came as a relief to the 49ers, who initially feared they lose the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft for the whole season.
“Our first gut reaction was — it was gonna be the year,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told KNBR.
Shanahan said the 49ers feared Bosa suffered a knee injury, but along with Lynch and the entire organization, was relieved to hear it was instead a “serious ankle injury.”
“It could have been a lot worse,” Shanahan said. “The way we saw it on tape — we had a big pile up, he had a very big man fall on his leg. I think we were very fortunate that he’s a good enough athlete where he was able to get his leg out of there, because I think for a lot of other people, it would have been his knee.
“But he got it caught up and there’s nothing he could have done about it.”
Bosa only played in three games as a junior at Ohio State, requiring season-ending surgery for an injured core muscle. The Fort Lauderdale (Florida) St. Thomas Aquinas product also dealt with a hamstring issue earlier in the offseason.
Once the news of Bosa’s significant ankle sprain broke, Twitter users raced to be the first to call the San Francisco rookie “injury prone.” His coach came to his defense.
“I know the perception out there with him missing last year in college,” Shanahan said. “And it’s unfortunate with this guy, because he is competing out there and playing as physical as anyone I’ve seen and we had a big man fall on his leg.”
Before the injury, Bosa had impressed the 49ers early as a player who can make a difference on Sundays from the start. The 49ers hope Bosa will be able to play in their Week 1 showdown with the Buccaneers, but that will depend on his recovery.
San Francisco wants to see Bosa back to his dominant self, like he showed during his Buckeye tenure.
As a Freshman All-American in 2016, Bosa posted 29 tackles (17 solo), seven tackles for loss and five sacks.
During his All-American sophomore season, Bosa showed the ability that made him a No. 2 overall pick. Despite splitting time with future NFL D-linemen Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes, he recorded 34 tackles (19 solo), 16 tackles for loss, nine sacks and one forced fumble.
His final year in Columbus ended abruptly due to injury in Ohio State’s third game against TCU, but not before Bose made his mark.
Bosa somehow made 14 tackles (11 solo), six tackles for loss, four sacks, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in more or less six quarters of football, due to blowouts against Oregon State and Rutgers, and the injury. He earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors.
Once healthy, the 49ers will hope to have Bosa return to form as a defensive end who invokes fear into coaching staffs and makes game-changing plays.