John Lynch did a wonderful job of retooling his roster to address needs at various positions, but one of his key stars knows it will be difficult to replace one departure.
Nick Bosa enjoyed quite a rookie campaign as part of a loaded defensive front that also included DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead, among others. Lynch swapped Buckner for a first-round pick this spring, which ended up helping the 49ers add talent at receiver and defensive line. Out went one defender, and in came another: South Carolina wrecking ball Javon Kinlaw.
Bosa knows it's a business, but that doesn't make Buckner's departure any easier for him.
"Buck was definitely one of my best friends on the team and seeing him go is obviously bittersweet," Bosa said Wednesday, via ESPN's Nick Wagoner. "He got a pretty good contract and he deserves it but just losing him as a leader, we're going to have to really figure out how to step up and fill that void because he was the third-down D-line play caller, he was the hype speech guy, he was everything. And I think he played with the best effort on the D-line, which really shows on tape when you see somebody that big sprinting to the ball every play and making those tackles downfield and obviously his pass rush ability, we're gonna have to step up.
"We have Javon (Kinlaw) coming in and I'm sure he'll be a huge help but me, Dee (Ford), Arik (Armstead), Solly (Solomon Thomas), D.J. (Jones), Ronnie (Blair), we're all gonna have to step it up for him."
It's quite a resounding endorsement from Bosa, who was essentially admitting Lynch traded away the heart of San Francisco's excellent defense. Buckner leaves behind a large pair of shoes to fill, but fortunately for the 49ers, they have a ton of first-round talent to collectively do so.