SANTA CLARA — Ohio State teammates Nick Bosa and Chase Young were back-to-back No. 2 overall picks in the NFL draft.
It seemed highly unlikely they would ever put on the same uniform and take the field together again once they entered the professional ranks.
But the improbable happened three weeks ago when 49ers general manager John Lynch pulled off the trade to acquire Young from the Washington Commanders.
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And it did not take Bosa and Young long to show what they could do once they were reunited.
Early in the second quarter of the Week 10 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Young beat his man and got to Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Then, a split-second later, Bosa arrived to strip Lawrence and recover the fumble.
“Sometimes it seems surreal,” Young said on 49ers Talk. “Even when we made that play, it was like, ‘We really just made that play, huh?’ When you’re in the moment, it’s weird being the first person in that moment to really absorb it and understand that it’s kind of crazy we’re on the same team and making plays again.”
Young said even with all the chaos going on around him, he knew it was his former and current teammate who finished the play to create the takeaway.
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“Like I said, it’s going to be a race to the quarterback and I knew if I was there, he wasn’t far behind,” Young said of Bosa.
Bosa and Young established a bond that dates back to Young’s first year of college in 2017. Bosa arrived on campus a year earlier as a top recruit from St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Young signed with the Buckeyes out of DeMatha Catholic High in Hyattsville, Maryland.
They immediately hit it off.
“He’s a real chill, laid-back guy, from the first time I met him,” Young said. “Similar to me. Nick sticks to his script, and that’s his thing.”
Young said he believes Bosa recognized his vast potential and decided he was going to help him maximize their time together.
“When I got to O-State, Nick kind of catered to me,” Young said. “I think he knew how talented I was coming in there, how I could move and catch on to things as quickly as he did. I felt like he really kind of grabbed me and said, ‘Come here, I’m going to teach you how to be a great player.’”
Bosa and Young were primed for a huge year together in 2018. But early in the season, Bosa was injured and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a tear to his bilateral core muscle.
Meanwhile, the 49ers were stumbling along to a 4-12 record and had the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
In the usual disparaging pre-draft chatter, there were questions — based solely on some social media posts — about Bosa's character and how he might assimilate into an NFL locker room.
“All that is definitely false,” Young said. “Great dude. Always there for you. Definitely a great teammate, somebody who’s always looking to help others.”
Lynch took note when Bosa showed up for an Ohio State practice before the Rose Bowl and saw the enthusiastic reaction of teammates as they greeted Bosa.
It even carried over to the game, when Young sacked Washington quarterback Jake Browning in the Buckeyes’ 28-23 victory.
“I remember I got a sack and pointed at him,” Young said. “I had to get one while he was there. He was a real big brother to me when I came to Ohio State.”
In just two games together with the 49ers, Young and Bosa have combined for four sacks. Bosa was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Jacksonville. Cameras caught a moment with Bosa and Young sharing a moment on the team’s bench.
“It’s good to have you,” Bosa told Young before they nudged each other while sitting side by side.
“I feel like we’ve always had a love for each other," Young said. "We love watching each other play. I don’t know. There’s just something about it. Even at Ohio State, we always clicked, maybe different than everybody else.
"We always kept in touch. When he got drafted. When I got drafted. Yeah, man, we definitely have a real good relationship.”