What’s Star NFL Defensive End Nick Bosa’s Worst Fear? The Same as Yours.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is ready for next season with the 49ers

May 24, 2023 7:00 am
Nick Bosa takes the field for the San Francisco 49ers.
Nick Bosa can play in front of a crowd, but he can't speak to one.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty

All-Pro defensive end Nick Bosa, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the NFL, has developed into an expert at creating high-speed crashes. Given the hordes of blockers attempting to prevent him from slamming into running backs and wide receivers with force, the 25-year-old has also become adept at avoiding collisions at high speed. That’s one of the reasons he found himself working out with Scuderia Ferrari coach Rupert Manwaring last month. During the workout, Manwaring guided Bosa through an intense training session that mirrored what Manwaring takes his elite F1 drivers through regularly.

“It was interesting to hear the perspective of a strength coach in a different sport,” Bosa tells InsideHook. “There are similarities in how you prepare your body with exercises that strengthen your legs, your upper body and your mobility, but there are some vast differences between football and F1. He had me catching stuff and reacting quickly, which is obviously important with what they do. He also put me through this funky neck exercise with a harness that simulated the G-force of turns and braking that was definitely out there. My neck will probably be a little sore when I wake up tomorrow, but it was interesting to go through it.”

So will Bosa, who’ll be entering his fifth season with the San Francisco 49ers after being selected second overall in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, be getting behind the wheel during an F1 race in the near future? “He told me I wasn’t ready yet after the workout, so I’m kind of disappointed,” he says. “But Rupert was really cool, and I think it’d be really sick to drive one around the track once or twice at a lower speed than what they do — if I could fit. I think that might be a problem. He was talking about the sizes, but in the metric system, so I couldn’t catch it.”

While Bosa was cooling down from his workout session, we chatted with him about sports he’s interested in other than football, preparing for the upcoming NFL season and the thing in the world that scares him most.

InsideHook: Other than driving in F1, are you interested in playing any sport other than football?

Nick Bosa: Golf is something I’m going to get into when I’m done playing. I dipped my toe in it throughout my college career, but I’ve kind of let it go for the past few years because it does stress out your lower back and shoulders a little bit. Whenever I want to play a sport, I want to get good at it, so I put too much into it. I love watching UFC and mixed martial arts, but that’s maybe not something I’ll get into with how much wear I’m putting on my body now.

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IH: Pro pickleball is having a moment right now. Have you ever tried that?

NB: I haven’t because it’s a lot of stress on the body. My mom complains about her knees every single day, so I’m going to avoid that one. If they start making hardwood pickleball courts, then I might be able to get on there. I’m sure it’s a ton of fun and it looks super competitive. It’s funny because my mom plays a bunch and she says that she gets whooped by 80-year-olds out there on a daily basis. I might hold off on that one.

IH: For your sport, did you watch the NFL Draft at the end of April?

NB: A little bit. I always watch the beginning of the first round to see where guys I actually know are going and see where some of the Ohio State guys are going. At the end of it, I’ll look at who we picked and see if anybody’s new in my room. We got an edge rush this year (Georgia defensive lineman Robert Beal Jr.), so it’ll be fun to meet him and give him knowledge and bring him along with us this year. It’s exciting.

IH: As a veteran player, do you think it’s your job to share your experience and help rookies along?

NB: When I came in, there were so many good veterans on the team I could look up to and learn from. Now that I’m kind of in that position — which is shocking, but five years in the NFL is a veteran — I just try to give them all the knowledge I can and show them how the nuances of this game work. I’m an open book with those guys. Teaching is something I’m passionate about. I’m not an expert in many things, but I’m an expert in football. I can definitely teach pass rush, but that’s about it.

IH: Does having new guys come in create internal competition within the team?

NB: I’m sure in certain situations. Obviously, if there’s a guy who’s fighting for a roster spot and they bring in a rookie, then there’s going to be some dynamic of competitiveness and there will definitely be some animosity that happens in the locker room. For me, I’ve kind of established myself to a point where I’m not worried about a fourth-round guy coming in and taking my job. Maybe in five years when I’m on the downturn and they bring in a guy to replace me, I might feel that way. For now, I’m just taking the leadership role.

Nick Bosa has an ongoing partnership with CELSIUS.
Nick Bosa worked out with an F1 trainer for CELSIUS.

IH: Coming into this season, how can you build off a year when you won Defensive Player of the Year?

NB: It’s such an imperfect game. There’s so much to improve on when you turn on the tape. There’s a lot you don’t like when you see it and there’s always room to improve. The majority of the tape I watch I’m not too happy with. I had a really good year, and I put a ton of work in through my entire career to have that type of year, but it’s not like I’ve reached the pinnacle yet by any means. I want to build on it and build in some other facets of my game that can help my team as a whole get that ultimate goal we want to reach. I approach every off-season similarly and am trying to improve myself as an athlete and build my body up to the point where I could play a 20-game season and be peaking towards the end.

IH: Will your defense as a whole be able to build on the success of the past few seasons?

NB: It’s definitely an offensive league with fantasy and the way the rules are kind of tilted that way. You kind of saw that in the Super Bowl. It’s great for the league and it’s going to make a lot of people a lot of money, which is a big goal of the NFL. But at the end of the day, you can win a lot of games with defense, and we’ve shown that. I still believe you can win championships with defense and hopefully we prove that here soon. It’s tough when you’ve been to the NFC Championship three times and the Super Bowl once and you haven’t gotten that ultimate goal yet. But with the people that we have in the organization, there’s really no question that we’re gonna bring the same intensity each and every year.

IH: How do you work on yourself to try to become a better leader?

NB: I think just putting myself out of my comfort zone. Earlier today when I was in front of the camera and had to recite lines…I’m quiet and I’m kind of an introvert so I have to fight through those things and a little bit of anxiety and that type of stuff. I think it builds on who you are, even as simple as it is. As a captain of the team Kyle Shanahan has a tradition of me giving a speech on Saturdays. In the beginning, I couldn’t control it. I was blacking out, fighting through and nervous as hell in front of the team. But the more you do it, the more you rep it, the more comfortable you get. Doing work in the community is similar. It all works toward that same goal of improving yourself as a person.

IH: So you’d rather try to tackle Derrick Henry coming through the hole than do public speaking? 

NB: Exactly. Kind of weird, but that’s true. I get in front of a group of people to talk and my heart starts racing and my vision closes in on me. When I run out of a tunnel in front of 120,000 people in the playoffs and everybody wants me to perform because of what I’ve done and, my heart rate is probably half of what it is when I’m standing in front of 10 people giving a CELSIUS promo. In high school and college, I was more nervous about playing football, but with the amount of times I’ve done it, I’ve gotten better at it.

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