SANTA CLARA — Nick Bosa’s long-awaited contract extension shot a magnificent morale boost through all corners of the 49ers’ headquarters Wednesday.
Coach Kyle Shanahan was in his office, preparing for a regularly scheduled press conference, when he saw the happy faces and positive energy ooze from three visitors — general manager John Lynch and chief contract negotiators Paraag Marathe and Brian Hampton.
“There were a couple of bro hugs and congratulations,” Shanahan said.
Left tackle Trent Williams was in the locker room with only a few other players when a phone flashed with news of Bosa’s deal (five years, $170 million).
“I ain’t going to lie, when we got here today, I started to get worried if it’d be done in enough time for him to play this weekend,” Williams said. “We got that taken care of, so I’m super excited.”
Linebacker Fred Warner was grabbing lunch in the cafeteria when defensive coordinator Steve Wilks grabbed him and morphed into a news-breaking messenger.
“It’s just a good morale boost to have one of our best players and leaders back on our team,” Warner said. “I’m just ecstatic.”
So, too, was Bosa.
“Shall we,” Bosa captioned a photo of himself on Instagram; his handle “@nbsmallerbear” reflects his childhood nickname of “Smaller Bear” to big brother, Joey, a Los Angeles Chargers defensive end and the family’s “Big Bear.”
Nick Bosa had yet to rejoin his teammates by the time Wednesday’s practice began. He may be a man of few words, but his simple phrases often summarize things quite well. He hasn’t spoken about his contract holdout all offseason, nor has his agent, Brian Ayrault.
No teammate sighed over Bosa missing out on training camp, their three preseason games or the past 43 days of team bonding ahead of Sunday’s regular-season opener at Pittsburgh.
There was elation of getting back the NFL’s Defensive Player of 2022. There also was a wave of pride, for their colleague receiving his “just due” and for the 49ers’ ownership again rewarding a record-setting contract to a worthwhile recipient.
“As you can tell the mood is a little brighter in here. Everybody’s smiling, cheering,” right tackle Colton McKivitz said. “I was walking past the video room and someone said, ‘Hey, your boy just got signed. He’s going to have three boats – The Mama Bear, The Papa Bear and The Baby Bear.’ We’re happy to have him back.
Defensive tackle Arik Armstead, a ninth-year veteran and this roster’s longest-tenured player, said he texted Bosa last month with a simple message: “Miss you, bro. But get every penny that you can. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change your family’s lives.”
Wide receiver Deebo Samuel, a year after landing his extension in training camp, took Shanhan’s lead and steered clear of interfering in Bosa’s business, saying: “If they couldn’t talk to him, I couldn’t.”
Before splurging on Bosa, the 49ers spent big to lure Javon Hargrave in free agency from Philadelphia, and now Hargrave finally gets to line up next to him. “They say he’s real chill,” Hargrave said. “All I hear is about how hard he works, how much work he puts in every day.”
Sunday, they’ll work side by side in Pittsburgh, where Hargrave began his career from 2016-19. “It’s very exciting. It changes the outlook of how they’re going to prepare for us with him coming back,” Hargrave added.
“We’ve got a full squad now,” wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk said.
Samuel and quarterback Brock Purdy became first-time captains, joining Armstead, Warner, Williams, and George Kittle.
On Purdy’s addition, Williams said: “He is a natural born leader. Guys notice that, and guys noticed it enough to vote him as a captain. That’s a huge honor. It’s not like he’s been a Day 1 starter and they handed him the keys to the car.”
Samuel and former quarterback Trey Lance just missed out on becoming part of last season’s six-man captain crew, and Shanahan said Samuel’s inclusion this season “shows how dedicated he’s been. You guys have seen it out on the field and you guys have written about and stuff and the players feel it strongly also.”
Rookie Jake Moody is pushing through last month’s right-quadriceps strain, practiced Wednesday and is expected to kick Sunday. “He’s looking good now and I feel good about him and I’d be surprised if he’s not there,” Shanahan said. “We’ll keep going at the pace we’re at. As long as he doesn’t have a setback, we should be all right.”
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Tight end George Kittle (groin) was limited but participated in practice, unlike a year ago when a groin injury kept him out of the Week 1 Wednesday practice and out the first two games. … Return specialist Ray-Ray McCloud is cleared from last month’s wrist surgery and expects to play Sunday in Pittsburgh, where he spent the 2020-21 seasons. … Safeties Talanoa Hufanga (knee) and Tashaun Gipson Sr. were limited, as were running back Jordan Mason (foot) and linebacker Oren Burks (knee).