LAKE FOREST — Braxton Jones and Larry Borom know they are in for a challenge in their Week 1 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.
And even though the 49ers finished with the fifth-most sacks in the league last season, one name deservedly takes up most of their attention: Nick Bosa.
The Bears’ starting tackles are more than aware that Bosa had 15.5 sacks in 2021.
“For sure, he is a great player,” Jones said on Monday. “He’s obviously a vet in this league. Everybody knows who Nick Bosa is, so you got to respect what he does.”
Since Bosa was drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, he has sacked the quarterback 24.5 times, made 105 tackles and forced six fumbles. He did all that despite only playing two games in the 2020 season.
So what makes an elite player like Bosa so tough to block?
“They’re just slippery. They can do a lot of things,” Borom said. “They can do a lot of different things and they can do them very well. So that’s the biggest thing when you got a guy that can do a whole bunch. You can find what’s the strong suit, but with guys like that, they can do everything well. They’re just slippery.”
Bosa’s versatility goes beyond being able to bullrush, set an edge or elusively get by offensive linemen. He also lines up on both edges. According to Pro Football Focus, Bosa lined up on the left side of the defense for 472 snaps and 352 on the right side last season.
So, Jones and Borom will both see No. 97 at some point in the game.
What has helped the young tackles prepare for a 49ers defensive line that accumulated 43.5 out of the 48 sacks last season is just going up against the Bears’ own pass rushers. Chicago finished with 49 sacks, which was one spot better than San Francisco, and a huge reason why the defense finished so high in that category was because of Robert Quinn and his 19.5 sacks.
“That’s the main reason I’ve been able to get comfortable so quickly is just like I’m going up against Robert Quinn and his speed,” Jones said. “Him being a vet it has been great for me. I’ve learned a lot. Even after I win a couple of reps or something like that, he finds a way to make sure I’m still on my toes and stuff like that.”
Facing Bosa and the rest of the 49ers’ defensive line to begin the season would be a daunting task for nearly every offensive line in the NFL. But Jones sees this matchup as an opportunity to “have a great game” in his NFL debut.
And for Borom, of course the goal is to win the home opener at Soldier Field, but he can still find the game successful if that doesn’t happen.
“Definitely a win, but as long as I can walk out knowing I left everything out there, I mean there is nothing much I can change,” Borom said. “As long as I know I left everything out there and gave it my all, that’s kind of it.”