Nick Bosa

Bosa, Wilks working to build upon 49ers star's NFL legacy

New 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is eager to see what Nick Bosa's future holds.

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SANTA CLARA -- Nick Bosa has played his way to some prestigious accolades since the 49ers brought him to Santa Clara with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.

And after meeting the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in person for the first time this week at mandatory minicamp, new 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is focused on helping Bosa add to that list.

"... I’m about relationships, so it was more about trying to learn him as a person," Wilks said Wednesday of his initial conversations with Bosa. "I think as you get to learn him as a person, now you get a feel for the player, and then you can put him in position. And one of the things we talked about is his commitment to this game and him still trying to get better.

"Defensive Player of the Year -- can I take the next step? Can I do it again? He has that focus and determination, so I just love coaching guys like that. That, 'It’s not about my status, it’s definitely not about who’s No. 1.' He’s committed to trying to be one of the best."

Wilks said during his first 49ers press conference in mid-May that he and Bosa solely had exchanged text messages up to that point. But with Bosa's arrival to the team facility this week came a meeting of the minds -- and Wilks made it clear the All-Pro defender is hungry to accomplish more.

Perhaps first on that list is becoming the NFL's highest-paid defender, though the contract extension-eligible Bosa seemed unconcerned by the possibility Tuesday and said he believes the 49ers will pay him what he deserves. Bosa registered a career-best 18.5 sacks during the 2022 NFL season en route to the league's top defensive honor, and the caliber of player Wilks has on his hands isn't lost upon the new defensive coordinator.

Wilks said Bosa's dedication to the game is similar to other former DPOYs he has coached throughout the years, specifically mentioning former NFL linebackers Luke Kuechly and Brian Urlacher. Urlacher was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018, while Kuechly will become eligible in 2025 after retiring in 2020.

Could Bosa one day don a gold jacket? That's the goal, Wilks said.

"All those guys that I just mentioned along with Bosa, it’s about really trying to create a legacy," Wilks said. "That was probably one of the things that I did talk about beyond just him as a person is just, ‘What are we building towards now?’

"Which is, each step is towards Canton. And I think that’s his mindset as well. But you’ve got to stay in the moment each and every day, be where your feet are and take it as it comes. But ultimately, that’s his goal."

Bosa's past defensive coordinators -- Robert Saleh and DeMeco Ryans -- both have gone on to accept NFL head-coaching jobs after leading one of the league's top defenses.

Now, the pass rusher and his new coach will look to replicate those same results in Santa Clara. But rather than Wilks focusing on where his own future might lead him, he's eager to see what Bosa's holds.

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