Chase Young

Why Ferrell ‘excited' about Young addition to 49ers' D-line

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SANTA CLARA — Defensive end Clelin Ferrell started the 49ers’ first eight games of the season.

Now, he is no longer a clear-cut starter.

Ferrell figures to see a drop in his playing time with the 49ers’ acquisition of defensive end Chase Young at the NFL trading deadline -- and he seems to have no problem with that.

“I’m definitely excited because playing on a team like this and playing in a system like this, we need guys because it’s a very fast and physical defense, especially being led by the D-line,” Ferrell told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“So as we get into the second half of the season, I feel it’s key that you have a group of guys who can come in and play off of each other.”

Young, 24, is strong once again, nearly two years removed from a torn ACL in his right knee and complex surgery. He averaged 58 plays per game with the Washington Commanders this season and played a career-high 75 snaps on Oct. 15 against the Atlanta Falcons.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft had five sacks in seven games with Washington.

“He’s still a young player with a lot of room to grow,” Ferrell said of Young. “He’s already shown some great things in this league.”

Ferrell, Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave have started every game along the 49ers’ defensive line this season. Young joins Randy Gregory and Drake Jackson as reserve edge rushers.

Kevin Givens, Javon Kinlaw and Kalia Davis round out the depth chart at defensive tackle. In addition, rookie edge Robert Beal was cleared to begin practicing off injured reserve this week.

“In this system, you really have to go full speed all the time, and when you get your opportunity, you have to be great because you’re playing with so many players that it makes you key in on the little things even more to get the job done and make plays,” Ferrell said.

And with a rotation of so many players along the defensive line, Ferrell believes it creates a healthy competitive atmosphere.

“We say stuff all the time, like, ‘Hey, I’ll meet you at the ball,’ ” Ferrell said. “I’ll tell Nick, ‘I’ll get there first.’ When you have a group of brothers, too many people mistake competition for envy.

“I think competition amongst guys who really care about each other is one of the best things you can have. Even if you do beat me to a play one time, I’m happy for you because I know you worked your ass off like I did. And now I have to go even harder the next time.”

The 49ers (5-3) return off the bye week on a three-game losing streak and face the surging Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Ferrell said he believes the defensive line’s best days are ahead — especially as Young and Gregory get more comfortable with the team’s scheme.

“I think guys are really going to start to mesh and you’ll see how good we can really be as a group,” Ferrell said.

Ferrell, 26, signed a one-year contract with the 49ers in the offseason after entering the league as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 draft and spending his first four seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders.

He has 17 tackles, .5 sacks, two tackles for loss and seven quarterback hits. He is coming off his best game and believes he is becoming more productive every time he steps on the field.

“One hundred percent,” Ferrell said. “I feel if I can keep progressing and keep listening to what (defensive line) coach Kris (Kocurek) and what Kyle (Shanahan) have in store, I think I’ll peak at the right moment.

“That’s the goal. It’s not about getting to the finish line, it’s about sprinting through it. You want to finish strong, faster than you started. Being out there with a group of guys who are just as talented, or more talented than myself, I think that takes my game to a whole new level.”

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