Could 49ers rookie Nick Bosa win NFL defensive player of the year?

Nick Bosa is leading the NFL defensive rookie of the year race by such a wide margin, maybe it’s time to think bigger for the San Francisco 49ers defensive end.

“If he just kept the stat line as it is right now, he could win rookie of the year,” 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said after the game. “Right now, he should be in line for defensive MVP.”

Officially the award is NFL defensive player of the year, and yes, Bosa is making a case for it.

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Bosa’s tremendous game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, which helped the 49ers improve to 7-0, will put him right in the mix for the top defensive award in the league at roughly the midpoint of the season. He’s on one of the NFL’s best teams. And he has a highlight play that will stick in voters’ minds.

49ers’ Nick Bosa has unreal interception

How often do you see a defensive end avoid a cut block, jump up and just snatch an interception out of the air at the line of scrimmage?

It’s rare, to say the least.

That’s an amazing play. And to think he also had three sacks against the Panthers. He’s the youngest player in NFL history to have three sacks and an interception in a game, according to the 49ers website.

"It was pretty damn impressive," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "I’m sure when I watch the tape it will even look better. The play he made on the interception was one of the more impressive plays I’ve seen from a d-lineman. Thought he should’ve scored, but it’s always nice when they don't and they let the offense score too. It’s alright.”

Bosa is clearly a special talent, and that’s why he was the No. 2 overall pick of the draft. The 49ers hit a home run with that pick.

Bosa off to great start

Before Sunday, Bosa was already doing some impressive work as a rookie. Among players with at least 200 snaps through Week 7, Bosa was 11th among edge rushers in Pro Football Focus’ grades (his brother Joey was No. 7 ... good bloodlines). He had 31 pressures and five sacks in six games. Then came his monster outing against the Panthers.

It’s still early, and players like surprise breakout Shaq Barrett of the Buccaneers, Cleveland’s Myles Garrett and Nick’s brother Joey are also playing at an elite level. But a rookie pass rusher even being in the conversation at the end of October is pretty impressive. Usually edge rushers struggle right away. Bosa has had no problem at all.

Even if Nick Bosa doesn’t get defensive player of the year this season, there might be one in his future. The 49ers picked a good one.

Nick Bosa with one of his three sacks on Sunday against Carolina. (Getty Images)
Nick Bosa with one of his three sacks on Sunday against Carolina. (Getty Images)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

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