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Chase Young: The next 49ers reclamation project along the defensive line?

The Commanders announced that they will not exercise Young’s option. Should the 49ers take a flyer on the former top draft pick?

Washington Commanders v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Washington Commanders announced they won’t be picking up the fifth-year option on edge rusher Chase Young, who will be a free agent after the 2023 regular season. Injuries have been an issue for the former top draft pick.

Young suffered a torn ACL in November 2021, which forced him to miss the final seven games of the season. Additionally, Young ruptured his patellar tendon, which caused a longer than expected recovery. Young only played in the final three games of the 2022 regular season, so it’s no surprise that Washington isn’t going to pick up Young’s fifth-year option.

Another flyer on a first rounder?

Even before his season-ending injury, Young wasn’t known as a prolific pass rusher. His athleticism was never in question, but, for whatever reason, the production wasn’t there.

But let’s not forget Young was a year removed from being voted the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, where he notched 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, recovering three of them to go with 12 quarterback hits.

Young’s fifth-year option would’ve cost Washington $17.25 million. According to Over the Cap, the 49ers would be on the hook for roughly $5.3 million of Young’s contract next year. San Francisco is up against the cap, so Young would be an expensive flyer.

There may not be a better opportunity for the Niners to find a proven commodity at this price, though. There’s no denying that Young comes with a risk. But you’re also hoping, as he’s now a year removed from in injury, the athleticism returns, and he regains the speed which made him a top draft pick.

Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, while hoping Drake Jackson takes the next step in his development. Neither of the aforementioned players come close to rivaling the potential of pairing Bosa with Young.

The move may require the 49ers to move more money around on the roster. John Lynch said he was looking for players who can contribute right away. Young wills a position of need, is youthful, and if he can’t stay healthy, then you lose out on just over $5 million.

But if he does, on a defensive line that features Bosa - Arik Armstead - Javon Hargrave - and Young, the risk is worth the reward.