Entering the 2020 season, many compared No. 2 pick Chase Young's potential to improve Washington's pass rush to how Nick Bosa transformed the 49ers' defensive front a season ago, helping it become a unit that propelled San Francisco to the Super Bowl.
In Week 1, Washington's defense lived up to, if not surpassed, all expectations. The burgundy and gold amassed eight sacks on Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, with five different players recording at least one sack. The pass rush was arguably the main reason Washington defeated its divisional rivals 27-17 on Sunday.
After such a stellar performance, it's worth wondering just how good Washington's defense can be over the course of 16 games. The group's potential is so high that NBC Sports Washington analyst Brian Mitchell doesn't even want to put a ceiling on it.
"They have the capability of being as good as the 49ers were last year," Mitchell said. "If you look at them, [their defensive line] led that team all the way to a Super Bowl [appearance] last year."
In 2019, San Francisco's defense totaled 48 sacks, which was the fifth-most in the NFL. The 49ers' defense was impressive as a whole; only the New England Patriots allowed fewer yards per game than San Francisco.
Of course, Washington still has a way to go before competing for a Super Bowl. While its defense may compare with last year's 49ers unit, San Francisco's offense was far more accomplished and proven than Washington's current crew.
"I'm not saying [Washington] is going to the Super Bowl, but I believe this team is going to give the offense many, many opportunities," Mitchell said.
Still, with an incredible defense, Mitchell believes Washington has the chance to surprise some teams this year.
"So if you want to say ceiling, it's top five," Mitchell said. "If they are a top-five defense throughout this year, they're going to surprise a lot of people and win more games than many thought they could."