Former 49ers defensive tackle Bryant Young followed along during San Francisco's Super Bowl run last season. As a Super Bowl champion and the most recent inductee into the 49ers Hall of Fame, Young knows the value of what a daunting defense can do for the success of a team.
"I've followed them very closely," Young said. "They're a very exciting team to watch. I loved how the chemistry of the team, the coaches, how the collaboration was there. The chemistry was great. They're just exciting to watch in a lot of ways. That defense, they caused a lot of problems and issues for a lot of offenses."
San Francisco's pass defense was best in the league last year, allowing just 169.2 yards per game during the regular season. The 49ers investments along the defensive line also combined for 48 sacks in 2019, which tied for fifth best in the league. According to Pro Football Focus, San Francisco's 39.2 percent pressure rate as a team ranked third in the NFL and the 49ers were able to accomplish that while blitzing just 21.8 percent of the time — the sixth-lowest rate in the NFL.
Thirteen years after retirement, Young still owns San Francisco's franchise record of 89.5 sacks. As one of the most complete defensive tackles of his time, Young believes his record isn't out of reach for San Francisco's group of young pass rushers.
"I think in this day and age, anybody is capable of passing records," Young said. "Records are there as a benchmark to achieve more and accomplish more."
He once believed former 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith would accomplish the feat before being released by the team back in 2015. Smith holds the title as San Francisco's single-season sack leader with 19.5 sacks in 2012 and notched 44.0 sacks in his first four seasons with the 49ers.
From one Defensive Rookie of the Year to another, Young believes Nick Bosa's trajectory could have him next in line to surpass the longstanding record.
"There are guys there that have the potential to succeed that. So we'll sit back and eat our popcorn and see what happens," Young added. "But certainly, you've got some guys. There are guys like Nick Bosa and a couple other guys that have the ability."
Bosa recorded 9.0 sacks in his first season in the NFL and notched 80 quarterback pressures according to Pro Football Focus, the most ever recorded by a rookie. He added four sacks in the playoffs, including two in the NFC Divisional Round victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
With a year under his belt and a full season to develop, the 49ers expect Bosa to become even more impactful going forward. Although he's 80.5 sacks away from touching the franchise record, the 49ers can only hope Bosa can eclipse the success Young had in his long-standing career in San Francisco.
"My expectations are always high and I set my goals really high and I've been achieving them," Bosa said. "So I'm going to just keep setting them high and keep working my butt off. I know the work I'm putting in now is going to show up and I think I'm going to be a much smarter player next year. I'm going to know how to approach my opponents much better. I'm not going to waste rushes and make silly mistakes that I made last year and hopefully enhance my game."