Bosa insinuates 49ers' defense was ill-prepared to face Chiefs

Bosa insinuates 49ers' defense was ill-prepared to face Chiefs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

LAS VEGAS — Could the 49ers' defense have been more prepared for Super Bowl LVIII?

Nick Bosa appears to think so.

There was complete raw emotion from all players after their heartbreaking loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, but there also were a few hints of what the All-Pro thought about defensive coordinator Steve Wilks' game plan.

In two of Bosa’s responses to reporters during his postgame media availability, the star edge rusher insinuated that the defense, as a group, could have been more prepared. That responsibility falls directly in the lap of the first-year coordinator.

"The zone read got us a couple of times,” Bosa said. “We could have been more prepared there. We have to know in crucial situations who is going to have the ball, and obviously it’s him. He had a scramble down the middle on that last drive.”

Bosa was referring to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who scrambled twice to convert on Kansas City's game-winning touchdown drive during overtime. The quarterback registered an 8-yard run in a fourth-and-1 situation, and then again found a wide-open lane for a 15-yard dash up the middle of the field on third-and-1 just a few plays later.

“He is who he is for a reason,” Bosa said of Mahomes. “You have to keep your confidence up and not anticipate him to make these plays. But there were some where I think, if obviously we could get them back, we would have been more prepared.”

Wilks has not had the easiest of transitions in his first season with the 49ers. After a three-game skid in Weeks 6 through 8, the coach famously made the move down to the field during games after spending the earlier part of the season upstairs in the booth.

The 49ers, who have been known for their stingy defense since Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch took over the reins in 2017, have played well enough to win, but not enough to be void of questions. The team has invested a large bulk of their cap space on the defensive side of the ball, as well as a hefty number of their draft capital, with the expectation that they can carry the weight of a game on their shoulders, if necessary.

The defense didn’t have an entirely lack luster game as their first half statistics showed. Bosa and Co. held the Chiefs to three points in the first half, and the only touchdown scored in regulation was when Mahomes and his offense were given a very short field on the 16-yard line after a muffed punt return.

“That first half was a very good defensive performance, but there were missed opportunities in the first half, too,” Bosa said. “We definitely wanted to lap them a couple more times to give us a cushion because you know who we are playing, and they are going to play until the end.”

And the end is when the 49ers' defense showed signs of weakness. In the fourth quarter and ensuing overtime, the Chiefs put together three lengthy drives of 12, 11 and 13 plays, respectively. Each of those drives resulted in points for Mahomes and his offense — two field goals and a touchdown.

Before the fourth quarter, the Chiefs had only put together one drive of 10 or more plays. In their final drive before halftime, Mahomes led a 13-play, 70-yard series which led to a field goal.

Obviously during the post-mortem of a game, it is easy to place blame, and Bosa was emotionally distraught after losing the biggest contest of the season. Still, there likely is some truth to his feelings -- and the evidence is on the game film.

“We were playing good defense most of the game,” Bosa said. “Obviously it hurts when it comes down to defense and we didn't get it done.”

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