49ers vs. Commanders: Will Chase Young play on Saturday?

Defensive end Chase Young #99 of the Washington Football Team sacks quarterback Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Defensive end Chase Young #99 of the Washington Football Team sacks quarterback Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

4:05 p.m. ET. 10-4. 42. 49ers -7. 7-6-1. 58. CBS. Saturday, Dec. 24

The Commanders pose a threat, defensively, to the 49ers in Week 16, but a fully healthy Chase Young would make that threat much bigger.

The San Francisco 49ers probably don’t have to worry too much about the offense of their Week 16 opponent, the Washington Commanders, given that it’s a bottom-10 unit in plenty of statistical categories.

However, Washington’s defense does pose a threat.

The Commanders are in playoff contention for a number of reasons, but the No. 1 cause behind their push has been their defense, a unit that ranks ninth best in scoring, 10th best in yards per play and has held opponents to an NFL-low average of 5.3 plays per drive.

All the while without one of their best defensive players, EDGE Chase Young.

Young, of course, suffered a torn ACL and ruptured patella in November of 2021, ending what was already a promising sophomore season for the 2020 Round 1 NFL Draft pick and Defensive Rookie of the Year out of Ohio State.

With Young having his practice window opened last week before Washington’s Week 15 bout against the New York Giants, there was thinking he could make his 2022 debut in Week 16 on the road against the Niners.

According to Pro Football Focus’ Ari Meirov, Young will indeed be available against San Francisco:

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers hoped Chase Young ‘waits one more week’ to return

Earlier reports suggested Young could return against the G-Men, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported “the final three games” would be more realistic with the Commanders in a fight for a Wild Card berth.

The first of those three games, of course, is against San Francisco at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

Defensive tackle Daron Payne leads Washington with 8.5 sacks, while fellow defenders Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen have seven apiece. Adding Young to the mix would unquestionably give the Commanders more clout in trying to stymie head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

As for Shanahan, he was hopeful nothing of the sort ould happen.

He told reporters the following earlier this week when asked about Young’s potential return:

"You have to expect it and if he’s not, that’d be a good thing, but you have to expect it. And they got a lot of good players out there though, so it’s not like if he’s out there, you have to change everything because there’s a lot of people you have to deal with. But hopefully he does the smart thing and waits one more week."

Read More: 49ers vs. Commanders: Week 16 betting odds, game prediction

Quarterback Brock Purdy and the rest of the 49ers offense would have preferred if Young waited another week, too.

Washington and the Niners will square off on Saturday, Dec. 24 at 4:05 p.m. ET, and it’s yet to be determined how big an impact Young will have.

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