Steve Young on quarterbacking in the red zone: “Be the artist and create something to get the ball in the end zone.”

Steve Young spoke with Tom Tolbert and Ralph Barbieri on KNBR Wednesday afternoon.

Here is the part of interview I found most interesting.

TOM TOLBERT: How do you cure Alex Smith – I shouldn’t say Alex Smith, I don’t know if that’s fair – but the Niners of their red zone woes? Can you make someone take more chances when he’s not a risk taker by nature? Some of the stuff they were running against Arizona was one read – he had one option and if that guy wasn’t open throw it away. I know you said you can’t do that in the red zone. You’ve got to throw guys open. You’ve got to take some risks. You’ve got to throw it into these tight windows. We know Alex doesn’t really like to do that. He’s not a gambler by nature. Is that something you can fix or is that just the way it is?

YOUNG: “I learned a lot from watching Brett Favre play. He was nuts. I would make the reads, drop the ball off, kick a field goal – thought I did my job. That’s not your job. Your job is to create something, be “the artist” like these guys talk about, be the artist and create something to get the ball in the end zone, not read the play, see that he’s covered, drop the ball down and kick a field goal. That’s not the job. That’s doing what you’re told, but that’s not…first of all you’re not going to win, and second of all you’re going to lose your job.

“So I learned very quickly that you had to figure out a way to create those touchdowns, and they are not easy. You say to me, “How do we get going?” Well, two things are really going to be a problem at some point if we don’t get them fixed, is third down conversions. We’ve kind of gotten away with murder trying to win football games with two of thirteen, four of fifteen. That’s not winning football. And when you don’t score touchdowns, I have always said, and I learned this from hard experience – every time you kick a field goal you’re closer to losing. You’re that one step closer to losing. That’s not always the case, but it’s a general way to look at kicking field goals. To me, Alex has got to, that’s his next point of development, is to be able to figure out ways to create touchdowns, and not just “doing the job.” He’s very competent doing those jobs, but we’re kicking to many field goals, so he’s got to – that means going out in the backyard with all the receivers and figuring out ways to create some space.

“But at some point you’re going to take some risks of throwing some interceptions, and I can understand why Alex Smith would be afraid of that, because you start throwing interceptions with this defense and the history he has in this town, that’s not good. So I could understand why he wants to be efficient.

“I don’t care that we’re 10-3. We’ve always said, for now a month or more, “Do we mean to go the distance?” Or are we okay with just being 12-4, 13-3, maybe winning a playoff, maybe not, and then going home and trying for next year? We’re here. Let’s do it. If we’re going to do it, what Tom’s question is, to me, needs to get fixed immediately.”

BONUS BARBIERI Q: Who’s going to win on Monday night?

YOUNG: “I think the 49ers win. I think Ben’s going to be very, very…I mean, if I understand his injury, he’s going to be very hobbled and a little ineffective. And we’re a team now with this locker room, so you’ve got to figure we’ll respond defensively. So you’ve got to figure if we can score 21 points, we should win this football game.

“I believe that Alex and Jim have probably realized: “Man, we cannot kick field goals – we can’t do it. We kick four more field goals and we’re going to lose when it really matters.” And so I sense we’ll see some dynamic plays down inside the 20, and some touchdowns. I think it will be great.”

BONUS BONUS BARBIERI Q: Does Harbaugh trust Alex Smith completely?

YOUNG: “No, it’s an ongoing process. No, not completely. You’re not going to just call plays and figure that Alex is going to protect him every time. They’re not there yet, nor should they. That’s not a cut against anybody. They’ve just got to grow together, and it’s going fine, but there’s times to start to kind of step it up….A coach doesn’t truly trust a quarterback for a little while. It takes a little while.”

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