Getty Baker Mayfield of the Buccaneers (left) and Nick Bosa of the 49ers.
It’s been four years now, and a lot of water has flowed between the bridges of 49ers star Nick Bosa and Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield. But Bosa still remembers the first time he saw Mayfield in an NFL game, a home game on Oct. 7, 2019.
Bosa had a score to settle with Mayfield that went beyond the clash between the 49ers and the Browns, Mayfield’s team at the time. The root of Bosa’s bone that needed to be picked was the 2017 NCAA season and a disrespectful slight from Mayfield during a game against Bosa’s Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus. Later more.
What’s even more relevant for the Buccaneers and 49ers, who meet Sunday, is the way Bosa’s eyes light up when he sees Mayfield. In their first NFL meeting of 2019, Bosa announced his arrival in the NFL with four tackles, five quarterback hits and 2.0 sacks.
Mayfield undoubtedly had the worst game of his NFL career. He was 8 of 22 passing with no touchdowns and two interceptions. His quarterback rating of 13.4 for the game represents a career low.
The normally reserved Bosa admits he talked throughout the game.
“I kind of tried to talk. “I don’t normally talk,” he said. “But he had this game under control. But he didn’t say a word back. … I screamed his name, like, “Baaaakerrr… Baaaaakerrrr… Are you okay?” “Come pick it up, we want a challenge.” Stuff like that. He just looked at me like…”
The first time Nick Bosa shared an NFL field with Baker Mayfield, the former Buckeye got revenge for the famous flag plant
“I just screamed his name like ‘Baaaaakerrrr.’ Baaaaakerrrrr. “Come pick it up, we want a challenge.” Stuff like that.”
— KNBR (@KNBR) November 14, 2023
Nick Bosa vs. Baker Mayfield had roots in the 2017 NCAA season
College football fans will remember the reason Nick Bosa despised Mayfield that day. It harkened back to the 2017 college season, when Mayfield was the starting quarterback for Oklahoma en route to the No. 1 overall pick that year. The Sooners went to Columbus and beat Ohio State 31-16, and Mayfield took the postgame celebration a little too far.
He carried an oversized OU flag to the center of the field, surrounded by dancing teammates. And as ESPN broadcaster Chris Fowler said, almost in fear: “Oh no, that’s not him. He’s not going to bring it into play in midfield, is he? Wow. Yes he is.”
He has. Nobody at Ohio State was happy. Certainly not Bosa.
Mayfield apologized for the incident. Bosa didn’t seem to care much.
“After the game, I didn’t mean any disrespect to anyone from Ohio State, especially the team or the players, because they’re a great team and a great program,” Mayfield said during a press conference. “I didn’t mean it in any disrespect. At OU-Texas we do the flag thing, it’s just something that got me caught up in an emotional win. It should have been something I did in the locker room, so I apologize for doing it in the middle of the field.”
Buccaneers-49ers 2023 a long way from OSU-OU 2017
At this point, 2017 is long over. Nick Bosa had fun with the incident in 2019 when he raised a mock flag on Baker Mayfield after one of his sacks.
The bigger issue for the Buccaneers will be how they handle the 49ers’ pass rush, which is one of the best defensive fronts in football and could potentially be the league’s best after the addition of Chase Young.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Buccaneers rank second in the NFL in pass blocking this season (grade of 76.8), helped by the skill of Mayfield, who has a sack rate of 5.0% this season. However, the 49ers have the second-best graded pass rush in the NFL with a grade of 90.5.
For Baker Mayfield, that means the 49ers’ Nick Bosa will be calling again. But this time he should have a better answer.
Sean Deveney is a veteran sports reporter who covers the NBA and NFL for Heavy.com. He has been writing for Heavy since 2019 and has more than two decades of NBA reporting experience, including 17 years as a senior NBA reporter for the Sporting News. Deveney is the author of seven nonfiction books, including “Fun City,” “Before Wrigley Were Wrigley,” and “Facing Michael Jordan.” More about Sean Deveney