When you finish your first season in the NFL as the Defensive Rookie of the Year, where do you go from there?
For 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa, the answer is up.
In his rookie season, the Pro Bowl defensive end racked up 47 tackles (32 solo), 16 tackles for a loss, 25 quarterback hits, nine sacks, one forced fumble, one interception and two fumble recoveries. For his second season, he is setting the bar even higher.
"Yes, definitely," Bosa said Wednesday. "My expectations are always high, and I set my goals really high. I've been achieving them, so I'm just going to keep setting them high and just keep working my butt off and know the work that I'm putting in now is going show up."
More responsibility will be on Bosa and the rest of the defensive line following the trade that sent Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. Bosa will miss one of his "best friends on the team," but he is also not one to back down from a challenge.
During the offseason, Bosa has been working out with his older brother Joey, a two-time Pro Bowl defensive end for the Los Angeles Chargers. The two have been running and lifting weights at a gym in Florida owned by their father, John, who was a defensive end for the Miami Dolphins from 1987-1989.
Both John and Joey have been valuable resources for Nick throughout his football career. Nick has taken advantage of their knowledge and experience while looking for ways to improve his game.
"I think I'm going to be a much smarter player next year," Bosa explained. "I'm just going to know how to approach my opponents much better. I'm not going to waste rushes, I'm not going to make silly mistakes that I made last year and hopefully enhance my game.
"Seeing the field a little better, not making little technique mistakes that I would make. Just really small things that you could see on film."
Bosa also explained that it's not all physical. The mental chess match with an opposing offensive tackle is something that he keyed in on toward the end of his rookie season. It is an important aspect that he will take advantage of going forward.
"I think toward later in the year I really understood what kind of rusher I was and how to set up tackles for later in the game," Bosa said.
The reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year is itching to get back on the field and believes the sky is the limit heading into his second season.
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49ers' Nick Bosa aiming higher in second season after being top rookie originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area