SANTA CLARA – Defensive end Chase Young is coming to the 49ers to form what they can only hope will be a formidable, pass-rush tandem with Nick Bosa, a former Ohio State teammate.
The 49ers acquired Young from the Washington Commanders for a third-round draft pick, a team source confirmed less than an hour before the NFL’s trade deadline. Young must pass a physical for the deal to become official.
Young’s career opened with a similar path as Bosa’s: both were No. 2 overall picks (Bosa in 2019, Young in 2020), both won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and both sustained anterior cruciate ligament injuries in their second seasons.
Now Young and Bosa reunite to try leading the 49ers (5-3) out of the three-game losing streak they’ve taken into this week’s bye.
Young, 24, produced five sacks for Washington, which fell to 2-5 on Sunday and also traded fellow defensive lineman Montez Sweat on Tuesday (to the Chicago Bears).
Young (6-foot-5, 264 pounds) is on the final year of his rookie contract after the Commanders failed to exercise his fifth-year option. He has 14 career sacks in 34 games, having missed the final half of the 2021 season with his ACL tear and all but the final three games of last season.
The 49ers’ pass defense is allowing the NFL’s 19th-most yards per game (228.9), and a key factor in that generosity is not just their leaky coverage but their inability to cash in with high-priced pass rushers.
The 49ers are averaging 2.25 sacks per game, with Bosa and Javon Hargrave each accounting for just three of the team’s 18 sacks. Bosa was awarded the richest contract in NFL history (five years, $170 million) a few days before the season opener, and Hargrave defected from the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency (three years, $39 million).
Young is the second pass rusher the 49ers have traded for this month. On Oct. 6, they acquired defensive end Randy Gregory from the Denver Broncos for a sixth-round pick, with a seventh-round choice also coming in return. Gregory has played 30 percent of the defensive snaps in his three games with the 49ers, producing a sack and four quarterback hits while working into a rotation with starter Clelin Ferrell and second-year reserve Drake Jackson.
General manager John Lynch is no stranger to October deals for defensive linemen, having also pulled off deals in recent seasons for Jordan Willis (2020) and Charles Omenihu (2021).
A year ago, the 49ers made one of the best trades in franchise history to get running back Christian McCaffrey, sending four draft picks to the Carolina Panthers. McCaffrey, a Stanford product, has matched a NFL record by scoring in his past 17 games, including last year’s three playoff games.