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49ers DE Chase Young on defensive effort vs. Lions: ‘I can’t have that’

The 49ers defensive end was forthcoming about the team’s effort issues against the Lions.

NFL: Super Bowl LVIII Opening Night Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers are set to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl on Sunday, setting up a rematch between two teams that look far different from their championship matchup four years ago.

For the Chiefs' offense, a key element to their success has been controlling the pace of the game through the ground attack, as running back Isiah Pacheco has operated as a bell-cow for Kansas City, accumulating over 200 carries this season on 4.6 yards per carry.

As of late, the 49ers have struggled with their run defense, showing issues with both effort and execution, which allowed both the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions to rush for over 130 yards on good efficiency in the playoffs against San Francisco.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the Super Bowl, defensive end Chase Young acknowledged the effort issues, understanding that the defense needs to play better than their previous performances this weekend.

“We know we have to do better. Have to do more,” Young said about the effort issues defensively, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “We can’t have that. I can’t have that and everybody on the team knows we can’t have that. So, we’re going to do our best to make sure that never happens again.”

After re-watching the game, Young said it was personal, which the team will hope to correct in their final test of the season against the Chiefs.

“Yeah, definitely,” Young said if he took the issues personally. “Definitely, we can’t have that on the field. Especially when you want to be a top defense in this league.”

Earlier last week, defensive coordinator Steve Wilks shared his displeasure with the defensive issues, calling out the team’s effort as embarrassing.

“Collectively as a team, I can tell you as a defense it’s unacceptable,” Wilks said about the effort and pursuit in the NFC Championship Game. “We talked about that. I wish I could tell these guys on play four, on play 27, this is what’s going to happen. You don’t know. So we’ve got to make sure that we play every down as if it’s going to be the difference in the ball game. And you could see on those particular plays, it wasn’t to our standard. Those guys understand and know that and quite honestly it was embarrassing.”

Did the issue revolve more around setting the edge or players not making plays?

“We had some spurts where we did it well and then we showed some where we’re inconsistent,” Wilks said about setting the edge on outside runs. “It’s just really about trying to pull the trigger. Sometimes on those permanent games, it’s not anything dealing with the scheme. It’s just that individual ready to go make a play and just got to pull the trigger.”

Head coach Kyle Shanahan acknowledged the struggles in defending the run as well, specifically pointing out the pursuit as a key issue against the Lions.

“Yeah, we haven’t done very well, it’s been the common theme, on them,” Shanahan said about defending the outside runs. “But people are going to get the edge when they block down on a defensive end. I thought there was a couple ones. I thought we did better with the crack tosses. There was a reverse yesterday on the fourth play of the game, one that we do a lot. The one that we call dope. That’s a really tough reverse to stop. They pull a guard, they block two people down, which will get the edge, you will pin the defensive end, which they got with [DL Nick] Bosa. They’ll block down on the next guy. Then they have a guy kick out.”

“Then you need pursuit on the field and that play was disappointing to me because I thought our pursuit was as bad as it’s been all year on both the two long runs. We did get the edge, not with the defensive end because they blocked down on him, but we get it with the next guy to turn it back. When he turned it back, our pursuit wasn’t there. That was the biggest disappointing thing about both those touchdown runs.”

The 49ers face a tough challenge ahead of them against Isiah Pacheco, who runs as hard as any running back in the NFL.

While a majority of Pacheco’s runs in the AFC Championship Game were between the tackles, a number of the running back’s bigger plays in the Divisional Round came off runs to the edge, which the Chiefs will likely look to use again versus the 49ers.

If San Francisco can be more disciplined on the ground, they have the personnel to limit Kansas City on the ground. However, they’ll need to exhibit better effort and pristine execution in order to do so on Sunday.