Nick Bosa

Why Bosa believes Young can be game-changer for 49ers vs. Lions

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SANTA CLARA — The 49ers’ star-studded defensive line did not produce any sacks while Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love attempted 34 passes in the NFC divisional playoff round.

But it is not accurate to say the front four did not have an impact on the game, either.

“Affecting the quarterback in different ways can be just as valuable as sacks,” 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa said Wednesday. “They’re hard to come by lately, but we’re going to keep working our ass off to get as many as we can.”

Bosa was credited with five quarterback pressures, including one on which Love made an ill-advised throw across the field that resulted in Dre Greenlaw’s game-clinching interception.

The 49ers survived with a 24-21 victory to set up a third consecutive appearance in the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers face the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium with a trip to Super Bowl LVIII on the line.

And, this time, the 49ers’ pass rush expects to have more of an obvious impact against quarterback Jared Goff, who was sacked five times in the Lions' first two NFL playoff games.

Bosa outlined the importance of making life difficult on Goff, who the 49ers know well from his five seasons with the Los Angeles Rams.

“He played great with L.A., and he’s played great with Detroit,” Bosa said of Goff. “But the key is, obviously, getting pressure on him. He’s got a really good O-line, so that makes it tough. But [if] you cover up his first couple reads and then you get after him and hit him a few times, it changes things a little bit.”

The 49ers have invested heavily in their defensive line, using first-round draft picks on Bosa and Arik Armstead, signing Javon Hargrave to a lucrative free-agent contract and acquiring Chase Young, the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, in a midseason trade from the Washington Commanders.

Young had five sacks in seven games with the Commanders before the trade. In 10 games with the 49ers, Young has just 2.5 sacks. 

Young could be a key Sunday against the Lions. He will make his second start and see most of the action with 17-game regular-season starter Clelin Ferrell out for the postseason with a knee injury.

Young is a player the 49ers believe has a chance to make game-changing types of plays.

“He has the ability, that’s for sure,” Bosa said. “You see it in pass rush on certain plays where he’s beating guys quick. The other night, he had a couple where the ball was out but he was winning.”

With opposing offenses often devoting most of their pass-blocking resources on Bosa or the 49ers’ interior pass-rushers, Young has a chance to take advantage of the many opportunities when he is not being double-teamed.

“We’re going to need it,” Bosa said. “If they’re going to slide a certain way and chip a certain way, whether it’s my side or Arik or [Hargrave] or whoever they’re focusing on for a certain play, those one-on-ones have to come alive.”

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