The San Francisco 49ers 2022 campaign was filled with a lot of career firsts for Nick Bosa. In his fourth season with San Francisco, the defensive lineman earned first team All-Pro honors, ended the 17-game regular season slate as the league's sack leader and on Thursday night, was announced as the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The award was presented to him by former Arizona Cardinal defensive end J.J. Watt at the 12th Annual NFL Honors at the Symphony Hall in Phoenix, Arizona.
"Mom, Dad and Joey (Bosa), I love you more than anything. You're the reason I wake up every morning. I love you. Thanks for always being there for me," Bosa said. "To the 49ers organization, to the Yorks and DeBartolos, thank you so much for doing stuff the right way and believing in me."
Bosa became a member of an exclusive club of 49ers defensive legends to win the vote for AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year and is the first 49ers recipient of the award in over 20 years. In fact, No. 97 is just one of three San Francisco players, including former defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield (1997) and cornerback Deion Sanders (1994), to secure the hardware.
Bosa's efforts helped San Francisco close out the regular season as the NFL's top-ranked defense and contributed to No. 1 finishes in interceptions (20), scoring defense (16.3 points per game) and big play defense. The defensive lineman recorded 19 tackles-for-loss, 48 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup.
"To the No. 1 defense in the league, shout out, all my guys who make my job a lot easier," Bosa added. "It's a team sport. I just do my job. If I've learned one thing in life up to this point, whatever end goal you have in mind, it's not going to be a smooth path. There are going to be times when you are questioning yourself, but if you stay the course and believe in yourself, take it one day at a time, there's going to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you!"
The defensive lineman's 18.5 sacks on the season are the second-most in a single season in franchise history (19.5, Aldon Smith in 2012) and the second-most by a member of the 49ers in his first four seasons (44.0 total by Aldon Smith). Bosa is eighth on the list of 49ers all-time sack leaders (43.0).
The Defensive Player of the Year honors caps off a long list of accolades earned by No. 97 throughout the course of the 2022 campaign. Bosa was named the Pro Football Writers of America Defensive Player of the Year and the NFL on FOX Defensive Player of the Year along with earning First Team All-Pro honors and being named to his third Pro Bowl. Bosa was the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November and NFC Defensive Player of the Week twice in the month of December.
This is the second time that Bosa is accepting an award at the annual NFL Honors event, winning the vote for AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2019. Bosa's older brother, Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, was the winner of the same award following the conclusion of his rookie season (2016).
Bosa is entering the fifth-year option of his rookie contract, and the 49ers brass has been very transparent about their desire to keep the defensive lineman in red and gold long term. Before departing for the offseason, San Francisco's general manager John Lynch was quick to praise Bosa on a stellar 2022 season and the impact he's had on the organization in his four seasons with the team.
"He deserves to be the Defensive Player of the Year in our league," Lynch said. "He's a fantastic football player, he's a game changer of a football player... I think we have a really good track record... of getting our players (contracts) done, but it takes time. It takes patience. It takes persistence, and we'll have that on our side... He's pretty chill about the whole thing, and I think with that in mind and each of us wanting the same thing, we'll be able to come to an agreement."