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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff mindset: Nick Bosa, Chase Young discuss 49ers’ mental shift

Jan 14, 2024 at 8:30 AM

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Chase Young finds himself on a roster unlike any he's been part of before. The pass rusher has been on one playoff team before, a 2020 Washington Commanders squad that exited the postseason in the Wild Card round.

Despite being a relatively recent addition to the San Francisco 49ers' locker room, Young grasps the mentality inside the building. Possessing one of the NFL's most talented rosters isn't sufficient for achieving the ultimate goal of winning a championship. It requires hard work and the pursuit of a flawless performance on the football field—a goal the 49ers strive for in every game.

When asked about being surrounded by immense talent, Young recently told team reporter Lindsey Pallares, "It's cool. Like Coach [Kyle] Shanahan, he tells us, not everybody's going to praise us again, and everybody's so talented, and this, this, and that, but at the end of the day, we have to put that on the field and actually do it. We have it on a piece of paper, but at the end of the day, I know I got to play that C gap to the best of my ability."

Nick Bosa, Young's friend and former collegiate teammate, reunited in Santa Clara this season, added, "Yeah, it's all about the two-and-a-half hours you're out on that field. No matter what kind of players you got, you got to be the best team for four quarters."

The 49ers boast playmakers like Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle on offense. Of course, you can't leave out the franchise's record holder for passing yards in a single season, Brock Purdy, throwing them the football.

On defense, alongside Bosa and Young, stars like Fred Warner, Arik Armstead, and Javon Hargrove pose challenges for opposing offenses.

With abundant talent, it's difficult to get a big head. Having a team-first mentality is a necessity inside this locker room.

Bosa noted, "Compared to other teams, there's so many great players on this team that you can't try and stand out and be the guy because you'll get humbled."

Having secured the best record in the NFC, San Francisco has this weekend off. They await the lowest-seeded winner from the Wild Card round, hosting that opponent next weekend at Levi's Stadium.

While the 49ers have repeatedly stressed an intense focus on each opponent, whether it be the regular season or the playoffs, there is no denying that there is something different about January football. It demands a heightened level of intensity, recognizing that each opponent can terminate your season and Super Bowl aspirations.

"It is a mental thing, taking that step," Bosa said. "Just every single play is so big. And I love the playoffs because any selfishness that you have goes away in the playoffs. Like, I want this many stats, I want this, that. You just want to get off the field and get the offense the ball.

"... There's selfishness to the sport. Everybody's trying to put food on the table for their families and make as much money as they can. And we're obviously a great team and you're selfless among the team, but when the playoffs come around, it's just do your job, get off the field and move on, and that's what I love about it."
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