49ers move to 7-0 as Nick Bosa, Tevin Coleman set historic tone

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- On a day when the San Francisco 49ers moved to 7-0 for only the second time in franchise history, it was rookie defensive end Nick Bosa and veteran running back Tevin Coleman who made some history of their own.

With their 51-13 domination of the Carolina Panthers, the Niners are 7-0 for the first time since 1990. That team was the only other one in franchise history to reach that mark, starting 10-0.

If history is any indication, the Niners' 7-0 start -- along with the New England Patriots' 8-0 start -- could be a sign of big things to come. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, this is the 10th time in the Super Bowl era that multiple teams started 7-0 or better.

In each of the past nine instances, at least one of those teams reached the Super Bowl, and in eight of the past nine, one of those teams won the title.

"The more games you win, the more confidence guys get," coach Kyle Shanahan said. "Just like the more games you lose in a row, the less confident you get. Both can be a little bit contagious to the team, and I think our guys, we've won a lot of different ways, been in a lot of different types of games, and I think our guys, the more you do that, the more you can reassure yourself that you can pull out certain types of wins.

"When it's low scoring, high scoring. When you have certain injuries. When you have to play in certain weather. The more you can have a team that does that stuff, it's something you can always go back on. No matter what the circumstances are, you can find a way to get a win in."

Sunday's destruction of the Panthers saw the Niners firing on all cylinders, with Bosa leading the charge on defense and Coleman forging the path on offense.

Among Bosa's many accomplishments on the day, he became the first 49er with three sacks and an interception in a game since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

He's also the first to pull off the feat since Kansas City's Chris Jones did it in Week 2 of the 2017 season and one of only three rookies to do it in a game, joining Minnesota's Kevin Williams and Carolina's Julius Peppers.

Bosa finished his seventh NFL game with four tackles, three sacks, three tackles for loss, an interception and three quarterback hits. For the season, he has 20 tackles, seven sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

"He's everything you can ask for," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "He's probably one of the best picks in 10 years with just how he's played. He's played like this since day one. ... And he deserves player of the week, or rookie of the week, rookie of the year, or anything. You know, if he just kept the stat line as it is right now, he could win rookie of the year. Right now, he should be in line for defensive MVP."

At 22 years and 4 days old, Bosa is the second-youngest player to record at least three sacks in a single game since 1982, trailing only Vernon Maxwell. Bosa has seven sacks in his first seven games, tied for the second most by a player in his first seven games since 1982. Only Mark Anderson, who had 7.5 sacks in 2006, had more.

If Bosa's hot start to his NFL career hadn't already made it clear that he instantly has become a fan favorite, Sunday's performance crystallized it. On multiple occasions throughout the game, Niners fans at Levi's Stadium broke out into loud "Bo-sa, Bo-sa, Bo-sa" chants.

Still, after the game, the soft-spoken Bosa had to go out of his way to describe his enthusiasm after his biggest game to date.

"It's who I am," Bosa said. "I'm just happy. I mean, I'm super happy, don't get me wrong. But I don't know. That's just me."

Before Bosa stepped to the dais for his postgame news conference, he stopped to give Coleman a hug and congratulate him on his own record-breaking performance.

On a day the 49ers dubbed "National Tight End (TE) Day," Coleman did his best to turn it into "National TC Day." He etched his name into the Niners' record books as well. He accounted for four touchdowns on the day, making him just the second 49er since the merger to reach paydirt four times in a regular-season game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He joins San Francisco legend Jerry Rice, who did it twice. Rice last did it on Nov. 14, 1993, the same year Coleman was born.

"That's definitely amazing to hear that," Coleman said. "I work hard each and every day and how humble I am, it's a great accomplishment."

Coleman scored on rushing touchdowns of 1, 19 and 48 yards and caught a 10-yard TD pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Coleman also became the first Niner to run for three scores in a regular-season game since Garrison Hearst on Dec. 1, 2002, and the first to rush for 100-plus yards and two-plus touchdowns in a game since Carlos Hyde did it in Week 3 of 2016 against Seattle. He finished with 105 yards on 11 carries and two catches for 13 yards.

The 49ers signed Coleman as a free agent in the offseason, reuniting him with Shanahan after their time together in Atlanta. In a crowded backfield group, Coleman has emerged as one of the Niners' primary weapons.

"From the first time that Tevin came into the building, just watching him run with the ball and how he reads it, how he gets downhill, him taking the edge and then getting vertical is one of the most impressive things I've ever seen, and he does it with zero regard for his body, which is pretty amazing for a running back," tight end George Kittle said. "I just love watching him play. ... He deserves that because he grinds every single day and we're just happy we could help him do that."

No less an authority than Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, who was in attendance Sunday, left impressed with what he saw from Bosa, Coleman & Co.

"They're good," Favre said. "The defense, man, is pretty stout. They're good. They're really good."