SANTA CLARA, CA – Sometimes fate has a delicious way of telling great stories.
In the third week of the 2018 season, fate seemed to give the 49ers a bad number when franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tore the ACL in his left knee and was lost for the year.
The hope Garoppolo had given the team when it took the lead in the last five games in 2017 was instantly dashed and the team achieved a 4:12 finish in 2018.
Then came the 2019 draft, in which the 49ers had the second best choice thanks to this bad season.
Enter Nick Bosa – who produced nine sacks, 16 losing matches, an interception, a forced fumble and two fiddly restorations in his novice season as the 49ers went 13-3 and earned the No. 1 spot in the NFC playoffs.
The 49ers are largely a home win over the Packers in Sunday's NFC championship game, far from a Super Bowl berth, thanks to Bosa's remarkable rookie season.
You can thank Garoppolo's knee injury for laying the groundwork for this amazing turn. If Garoppolo had stayed healthy last season, the 49ers would almost certainly not have finished 4: 12 and would have chosen Bosa as No. 2 of the draft.
"Things have a way of working," Garoppolo said with a smile. “I always said to myself that it is a blessing in disguise, the ACL [injury], And we got Bosa out of there, so it was a pretty good compromise, I would say. This ride is crazy. You have to drive with the blows. "
What if Garoppolo hadn't been injured?
"We don't get [Bosa]Said Mike McGlinchey. "Thank god Arizona didn't take him with him [with the No. 1-overall pick]because I would see him for a very, very long time [as an opponent], ''
How long did McGlinchey realize how special Bosa was when he first saw him practice?
"It took about a day," he said. “I remember Joe when he was first in training camp [Staley, left tackle] and I talk like this: "As long as we have to do that in the training camp, it will hurt us."
"He is a stud farm."
Bosa was born for that. His father John was in Miami in 1987 in the first round and played three seasons in the NFL. His older brother Joey was ranked third overall by the Chargers in 2016 before winning Defensive Rookie of the Year and recording 40 sacks in his first four seasons.
Staley, the oldest statesman of the 49ers, said in his 13th season that his realization that Bosa was special was "fairly immediate".
"It was probably the first or second day on the training camp practice field," said Staley. “It was a bit shocking how silly he was able to make many talented duels look early, including me. As a rule, you get used to the NFL style of play and realize that you can not only win with athletics and understanding of blocking schemes and hand use and all the different nuances that occur when rushing for a passer-by in the NFL.
"He had that down there. It was pretty obvious that he was a lot further away than a typical rookie who came to the NFL. "
Veteran 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said, "Sometimes you forget he's a novice until you really think about it." [because] he doesn't play like a beginner, he doesn't wear like a beginner, he doesn't act like a beginner in any way. "
Before Bosa, the 49ers had 36 sacks in 2018. With Bosa, who had two sacks in the playoff win against the Vikings last week, they produced 48 sacks this season. Before Bosa, the 49ers forced a franchise low of seven sales in 2018. With Bosa they forced 27.
"Bosa was definitely a difference maker," said coach Kyle Shanahan. "I don't want anyone 4-12, but after going through it, it was nice what it brought us."
McGlinchey added: “If you look at it, 4:12 was a blessing for what to expect in the future. Obviously we will try to avoid 4-12 seasons to get high draft picks from now on. "
As long as Bosa is in the team and healthy, a 4:12 success for the 49ers is not likely in any season.