Humble Young takes top NFC honors

After winning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors, 49ers defensive lineman Bryant Young was his usual humble self Wednesday.

"It definitely feels good to get a win and then something like that," the 12th-year veteran said Wednesday afternoon after the award was announced. "But I can't take credit for all of it. My teammates did a tremendous job, and I definitely had a supporting cast out there."

But Young definitely was the star. He recorded three sacks on St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger in the second quarter alone Sunday to spark a strong defensive effort that led the 49ers to a 28-25 upset victory over the Rams in the season opener for both teams.

Young's performance was enough to earn him top NFC honors over a host of other defensive standouts that were nominated for the award – Tampa Bay LB Derrick Brooks, Atlanta DT Rod Coleman, Arizona LB Karlos Dansby, Washington DT Cornelius Griffin, Dallas CB Anthony Henry, Tampa Bay CB Brian Kelly, Detroit S Kenoy Kennedy, New York LB Antonio Pierce, Tampa Bay DE Simeon Rice, Detroit DT Shaun Rogers, Minnesota S Darren Sharper and New York DE Michael Strahan.

Young, who made the switch from defensive tackle to defensive end in the 49ers new 3-4 defense this year, paced a seven-sack effort by San Francisco's revamped defense – the sixth-best single-game total in team history. It was the 18th multiple-sack game of Young's career but just his second three-sack game, matching his entire sack total from the 2004 season.

This is the third time that Young has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Week. He earned the award for the first time in Week 6 of the 1996 season after registering five solo tackles and three sacks at St. Louis (10-6) and then earned his second award in Week 14 of the 1999 season after recording two sacks and a safety vs. Atlanta (12-12).

The last 49er to post three sacks in a game was Chris Doleman, who had 3.5 sacks in a November game against Carolina in 1998. The last 49er to post three sacks in a season opener was Jeff Stover in 1986.

Here's Young's takes on a variety of subjects Wednesday as the 1-0 Niners prepared for Sunday's road game against defending NFC champion Philadelphia:

On facing former teammate Terrell Owens on Sunday: "We just have to go out there and play our game. I'm not going to get into the T.O. comments, but we have a game to play and we really have to focus on what we have to do as team."

On whether it matters if the Eagles play Donovan McNabb, who's nursing a chest injury, or backup Koy Detmer at quarterback: "I think we have to prepare as if Donovan's going to play, but we know that Detmer is a very talented quarterback. It really doesn't change for us because their scheme is probably going to stay the same. We know that Donovan is a very talented quarterback that can throw the ball down the field and run the ball."

On whether the 3-4 defense gives him opportunities to get more sacks: "I think so, just in terms of what my alignment is and how we change things up along the front. With our linebackers coming or our safeties coming, it changes things up to allow each guy to get some pressure in the quarterback's face."

On whether it has been a good change for him at this point in his career: "So far, so good, but we have many, many, many games ahead of us."

On facing standout Philadelphia offensive tackle John Runyan on Sunday: "He's a very talented tackle. He's a stout guy that plays the run well. He's a good pass protector that's been around for a while. He's a crafty guy, so we've got our work cut out for us."

On playing in Philadelphia: "We played there a couple of years ago, and it was a very tough environment to play in. The crowd was really into it. I think it's one of the top three toughest stadiums to play in, so we have to understand that it's just us when we walk into that environment."

On how the atmosphere in the 49ers locker room has changed since a week ago: "I think we have to put that behind us. We understand that it definitely felt good to win, but at the same time we can't continue to ride on that because we still have 15 more regular-season games left. We did enjoy the win, but it's behind us, and now we have to focus on Philly."

On whether the team is reincarnated by the way everybody is talking about Sunday's win: "That's just one game, and to sit here and say we've arrived, I can't say that because we haven't. There's definitely a lot of room for improvement and a lot more games ahead of us."

On whether, at age 33, he's starting to feel younger as a player: "I'm just trying to do my very best for my teammates and this organization and be where I'm supposed to be within this defense."


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