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Niners DE Nick Bosa admits holdout has held him back 'a little bit' in 2023 season

Nick Bosahas the highest of standards for himself. 

Thus, while Bosa continues to gather elite grades, he's not ecstatic at how he's performed so far in 2023 and he admitted Wednesday it might have something to do with his training camp-long contract holdout.  

"I think a little bit," Bosa said Wednesday, via The Athletic’s David Lombardi, when asked if his holdout has negatively impacted him. "I think I'm trying to work on stuff on the run this year that I wasn't able to do in camp. So, those games that I mentioned, the two, I think I was thinking too much because I was trying to add something to my rush plan which is not what I want to be doing during season. I want to be locked in on what I do best and just doing it throughout the whole year. But there's no excuse at this point for that."

Bosa underscored that his mindset and focus -- ie: being "locked in" as aforementioned -- haven't been where he wants them to be at all times in the 49ers' first seven games. He cited those as the chief reasons he struggled in a Week 1 lambasting of the Pittsburgh Steelers and a Week 6 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Nonetheless, Bosa owns a 92.8 overall grade from PFF -- second among edge defenders. Bosa's 17 QB hits lead the Niners and his 29 QB pressures are tied with Javon Hargrave for tops on the team and 14th in the NFL along with the likes of Aaron Donald and Maxx Crosby. His 2.5 sacks aren't eye-popping, but sacks are hardly a constant when it comes to judging pass-rushing performance.

"I try not to equate them hand-in-hand, because like you said it's not an exact correlation, at all," Bosa said. "I think I played really good games this year that haven't been sack games. And then I mentioned Cleveland I got one and that was one of my worst games.

"I think if you just stay the course, they'll eventually come if you're putting yourself in the right positions. I'm trying to continue to play up to my standard and I think those will come. It's a really long year so hopefully in the biggest moments is when they come."

The reigning Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year, Bosa posted a career and NFL-high 18.5 sacks in 2022. At this point last year, he had seven sacks -- but two fewer QB hits. He's still impacting the QB, just not tallying the statistic so many have come to equate with elite edge rushers.

He's confident they'll come, and that any minimal holdout rust will wear off. Right now, however, the 49ers defense has come under fire in the aftermath of a 22-17 loss on Monday to the Minnesota Vikings. San Francisco needs a win to get back on track and remind everyone of the juggernaut that began the season at 5-0. It will look to do just that on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Regardless of what the grades or logic says, Bosa is still hunting for a big game.

Said the three-time Pro Bowler: "I don't think I've, like you said I'm hard on myself, I don't think I've played a great game yet."

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