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J.J. Watt: 49ers’ Nick Bosa deserves record deal, but isn’t NFL’s best defender

J.J. Watt: 49ers’ Nick Bosa deserves record deal, but isn’t NFL’s best defender

The way J.J. Watt has it figured, 49ers’ edge rusher Nick Bosa has a record-setting contract coming his way but won’t necessarily be the best player on the field in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Huh?

That’s Watt looking out for his brother T.J. Watt, a Steelers edge rusher and a premiere pass rusher in his own right.

Watt was available on a CBS conference call advancing the network’s NFL coverage this season since he’ll be put to work as a studio analyst. He is a 12-year veteran, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the Houston Texans, has 114 1/2 career sacks and is a potential first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Bosa remains a holdout with the regular season fast approaching on Sept. 10, with the expectation that he will become the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL. He is the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year and led the league in 2022 with 18 1/2 sacks in 16 games.

“The way the league works, in terms of the salary cap rising and contracts going up every year, I think there’s no question Nick deserves it,” J.J. Watt said. “With the impact he has on that defense and what he’s able to do, he has absolutely earned and deserves his contract coming his way.”

Watt, of course, stopped short of saying Bosa was a better player than his brother T.J., who was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 with 22 1/2 sacks for Pittsburgh and last year had 5 1/2 in 10 games after missing time with a torn pectoral.

“My brother is still the best defensive player, there’s no question about that, but in terms of how contracts like up and in terms of how things work in this league I do believe he is in line to be the highest-paid player at his position because of how it all works,” J.J. Watt said.

Pittsburgh edge rusher T.J. Watt is the brother of J.J. Watt and will face the 49ers in Week 1 of the regular season. File photo

Bosa is scheduled to make $18 million on his fifth-year option and he has no intention of playing under that number. In terms of the highest yearly average salary, the top 15 players in the NFL are all quarterbacks. No. 16 is Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald at $31.6 million. T.J. Watt is at No. 19 at just over $28 million.

“They need Nick Bosa,” CBS analyst Boomer Esiason said. “He has to be in that lineup. He’s a difference-maker. J.J. likes to talk about game-wreckers, nobody wrecks a game more than T.J. Watt or Nick Bosa. Or (Cleveland’s) Myles Garrett, for that matter.”

Although Bosa has missed all of the offseason as well as training camp, J.J. Watt doesn’t see a big problem with him being ready for Week 1 if he signs and reports soon.

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“Have you seen Nick Bosa? He looks like he trains in his sleep so I think he’ll be all right,” Watt said. “Especially in the position he plays. It’s my own position, so I can rip on myself here.

“We’re not the sharpest tools in the shed. They literally line up and say, ‘Go get the football.’ I don’t have to know coverages. I don’t have to know multiple assignments and the playbook is pretty much ‘Go get the ball, big guy.’ I think he’s going to be fine out there.”

Now all the 49ers have to do is get Bosa signed.