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After in-season trade, Chase Young is grateful for opportunity to chase title with 49ers

HENDERSON, Nev. -- Chase Young began 2023 with a Washington team that had its backs against the wall.

An ownership change loomed, and Ron Rivera was coaching for his job. But Young never saw the end of that story because the Commanders traded him to the 49ers at the deadline, shipping him away in exchange for assets and closing that chapter of his career with a thud.

As it turned out, that thud was the perfect precursor to the gleam of the Lombardi Trophy, which Young will have a chance to win Sunday in Super Bowl LVIII.

As soon as the news broke that Young was headed west to reunite with former Ohio State teammate Nick Bosa with the 49ers, expectations rose. San Francisco secured an instant upgrade and answered one of its biggest defensive questions with one submission of paperwork, leading many to crown them as the best in the NFC months before the team actually earned that honor.

Young saw it coming all along, responding Tuesday to a question of whether he thought the 49ers might reach the Super Bowl with a smile.

"Yeah," Young said, grinning. "Yeah."

Young had plenty to play for even before he arrived in San Francisco. Washington declined to pick up the fifth-year option on the former Defensive Rookie of the Year prior to the start of the 2023 season, transforming the campaign into a prove-it year for Young.

Then, he was sent to a top team in the NFC with every reason to believe they could win it all.

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Young didn't acclimate to the 49ers overnight, but it didn't take long for him to find his footing. He said Tuesday it took him "about a good week" to adjust to the schedule and new location before he felt comfortable. Those watching at home couldn't tell: Young recorded 1.5 sacks combined between his first two games, both runaway wins for San Francisco, immediately validating the 49ers' decision to acquire him.

He's since gone four games without a sack. But he has plenty of reason to feel confident he'll make an impact in Super Bowl LVIII, primarily because he's already passed the toughest part of the process, and feels like he fits in quite nicely with his still-new teammates.

"That starts in practice, as well, just getting that feel," Young said of establishing a rapport with his fellow 49ers. "It was interesting for me, just with the whole trade and all, but obviously, I'm very fortunate to come to one of the best organizations, if not the best, in the league."

Young wisely avoided talking much about Washington, even declining to delve into the emotions he experienced when he learned he'd been traded. Reporters pried, but Young didn't relent, choosing to speak vaguely on the matter.

That was in the past. He's in a better place now -- even if now only lasts for one more week. And if he wins the Super Bowl, it will all have been worth it.

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