PITTSBURGH — It turns out that Nick Bosa’s contract holdout did not keep him completely out of the loop with the 49ers, especially when it came to Drake Jackson’s progress.
“I was watching tape throughout the holdout,” Bosa said. “It was clear as day he’s made strides, with his work ethic, his preparation and all his moves out there.”
Jackson produced three of the 49ers’ five sacks in Sunday’s 30-7 rout of the Steelers to open the season.
“He’s really been detailed and put on some weight and he’s still moving like he moves. He’s going to be dangerous,” added Bosa.
Safety Tashaun Gipson was thrilled to learn that Jackson, his locker-mate in Santa Clara, had as many sacks Sunday as he did all of last season as a rookie.
“Drake doesn’t talk that much. He’s got an old soul. I couldn’t be happier for a guy like that,” Gipson said. “We know he’s a good player, and having him make a statement like that is huge for his confidence and for this defense.”
Bosa was shut out on the sack total but was pleased with how his body responded from the 35 or so snaps he played only three days after rejoining the 49ers.
Despite playing less than his normal workload, Bosa made an impact on the game. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged on Tuesday, the day before Bosa ended his holdout with a record contract, that the Steelers had to prepare for the star pass rusher.
“He always has to be accounted for, you have to have multiple eyes on him, and obviously it allows everybody else to do their job,” Gipson said. “He’s kind of the straw that stirs this drink, obviously. He’s the best defensive player in the league, so it was huge having him back and it was a boost for us all.”
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Bosa did account for one of the Niners’ nine hits on Kenny Pickett, who was sacked three times on the final series, by Jackson, Kerry Hyder Jr., and 2023 prized free agent Jayvon Hargrave.
“Between him, Chris Jones, and obviously Aaron Donald, it’s pretty close as to who affects games as much from the inside,” Bosa added. “To add him with Arik, it’s going to help us on the edge a lot.”
The man on the receiving end of the 49ers’ pressure agreed that San Francisco’s defense has a high level of talent.
“I think San Francisco’s defense is a little bit better than some teams in the preseason we played,” said Pickett, who posted a perfect passer rating in wins over Tampa Bay, Buffalo, and Atlanta. “They’re a good team but at the end of the day we didn’t secure anywhere near at the level that we need to.”