Nick Bosa, 49ers on a Tear Ahead of Matchup With Titans

By Field Level Media
Field Level Media
Field Level Media
December 23, 2021 Updated: December 23, 2021

Nick Bosa looks to continue his sack rampage when the San Francisco 49ers face the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night in a pivotal contest for both teams in Nashville.

Bosa has recorded at least one sack in six straight games and has racked up a career-high 15 for the season, which is tied for third in the NFL.

While Bosa’s first line of attack is helping San Francisco (8–6) move closer to landing an NFC playoff spot, the defensive end also has his eyes on the franchise single-season sack record held by Aldon Smith (19.5 in 2012).

“I’d like that,” Bosa said. “I definitely would like to have my name on there for this organization, but I’m also just trying to take it one day at a time.”

Bosa’s big campaign comes after he tore the ACL in his left knee in the second game of the 2020 season. His comeback and return to form have inspired teammates and impressed defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

“He’s definitely been our MVP, and I’m so happy to have him on our side,” Ryans said. “I just love the way he works, love the way he brings other guys along with him. He’s everything you could ask for in a player.”

The 49ers currently own the sixth-best record in the NFC. They have won two games in a row and five of their past six heading into the matchup with the Titans (9–5).

Tennessee is sputtering, with three setbacks in its last four outings, but still leads the AFC South by one game over the Indianapolis Colts.

The Titans also have to quickly push aside the disappointment of letting a 10-point lead get away Sunday in a 19–13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“This will be a huge week to try and improve mentally; we won’t be able to do much physically,” Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel said. “And you have to prepare to win a game against a great opponent. It’s a great challenge: a team that’s won five of their last six games.”

The Titans haven’t been the same force since star running back Derrick Henry was lost with a foot injury in Week 8. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has had to shoulder more of the load, and he has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in three straight games and four of six since Henry was hurt.

Tannehill also has thrown 11 interceptions over the past nine games—six coming during the current 1–3 stretch.

“We’ve just got to clean things up and take care of the ball, first and foremost,” Tannehill said. “We have done some good things over the last month, but turnovers have killed us.”

The passing game might receive a boost as receiver A.J. Brown returned to the practice field after missing the past three games due to a chest injury. There is a possibility Brown will be activated off injured reserve prior to Thursday’s game.

However, wideout Julio Jones (hamstring) didn’t practice Tuesday, two days after leaving the loss to the Steelers. Vrabel said a decision on Jones might be made close to game time.

San Francisco has its own game-day decision as leading rusher Elijah Mitchell (759 yards) didn’t practiced Tuesday.

Mitchell missed San Francisco’s 31–13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday due to a concussion and a knee injury. He has cleared the concussion protocol, and the 49ers are waiting to see whether the knee will respond and allow him to play.

Tight end George Kittle is on a three-game roll in which he has caught 28 passes for 425 yards and three touchdowns.

San Francisco has won the past two meetings with Tennessee, including a 31–17 decision in 2013 when the teams last met in Nashville.