Top 10 Rookie Defenders
Niner Report|March/April 2020
Nick Bosa had one of those rare seasons in 2019 when he was considered by just about everybody in the universe as the best rookie player in the NFL — on either side of the football.
Craig Massei

Not only did Bosa win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors from the Associated Press, but he also was named the league’s best overall rookie while garnering Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year honors and the Pro Football Writers of America NFL Rookie of the Year Award. The No. 2 overall selection of the 2019 draft, Bosa earned those accolades with his dominant play in the defensive trenches that earned him a place high on this list of the Greatest Rookie Defenders in 49ers history.

1 Ronnie Lott: San Francisco’s first-round draft pick in 1981 was a dominating defensive force from the moment he stepped on the field, setting the early tone for the team’s two-decade dynasty while earning first-team AllPro honors and leading the 49ers to their first Super Bowl title. Returning three of his seven interceptions for touchdowns, Lott would have been NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, too, if he hadn’t entered the league the same year as a guy named Lawrence Taylor — the only player in history to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in his rookie season.

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