Steve Young spoke on KNBR Wednesday afternoon. Here’s what he said about the 49ers quarterback controversy.
Q: What do you think’s going on with this quarterback controversy?
YOUNG: “It’s pretty easy for me based on what Jim said. There are three types of controversies – the one in the streets, the one in the locker room and the one with the coach. The one that truly matters is the one with the coach.
“What Colin did – electrifying all of us – changes everything, because he’s going to get much more runway and opportunity. He gives Jim much more ability to play with the system. It opened the door, and Jim had to deal with it postgame. How he dealt with it was, without saying it: ‘I’m heavily invested in Colin, I picked him and he’s my guy.’
“Alex is his guy too – I’m not saying he’s not. This is completely different. He trained Colin. What I heard after the game was, ‘If Colin’s ready to play – and I’m not saying he is right now – but as soon as I think he’s ready, he’s my guy.’
“Alex Smith is going to get back on the field, he’s going to play great for 10 years and never give anybody else a chance to play again and be one of the greatest players of all time and everything will be fine. But short of that, he’s going to have Colin nipping at his heels.
“You knew this was coming. It’s phenomenal the way Alex Smith has handled this. And now, the inner turmoil and consternation because now your job is challenged, is a growing moment if you want it to be. It doesn’t have to be a negative. It can be a positive: This is going to push me to play the best I’ve ever played. Take that task, but don’t be fooled: If things fall mediocre, or things aren’t so good, you know the story. The narrative has been written in my mind by Jim after the game.
“Now, the practical realities are out there, and let’s play ball. It looks like Alex is up to it. I cheer them both on because they’re both phenomenal guys. The 49ers should be blessed holistically with Alex being pushed and Colin nipping at his heels.
“Jim’s the kind of guy who will tell Alex, ‘Alex, you’re playing, but Colin’s coming in.’ He’s already done it. He’s going to play. I think they’ll manage through that.
“It’s a little bit out of the norm. You could say that it’s risky, that you should just pick one guy and go. But I don’t mind the creative tension, two good guys – they’re not going to get in a fist fight in the locker room. They’re going to work together. If there was a more volatile personality – maybe like Jim and someone else, Jim might not want that – but these two aren’t going to get in a fist fight. They’re going to work it out. I think it’s a blessing for the 49ers and the fans that Colin’s great and he’s going to be coming and Alex is now going to be putting the pedal to the metal, and we’ll see how it plays out.
Q: Vernon Davis said it felt like the handcuffs were taken off the offense against the Bears.
YOUNG: “Yeah, Jim’s been very careful. Is that Alex? No, that’s the play calling. I’ve said that before. I don’t know if Alex knows how good he can be, because I don’t know if they’ve really dialed it up that way to go find out. If I was Alex, there’s a part of me that would say, ‘Hey, wait a second. Do that for me. If you want to let it rip, don’t wait for the backup to get in. Let me.’
“Against the Bills, they had almost 600 yards. And Smith had a near-perfect game in Phoenix.
“I don’t know. We can delve into this deeper and deeper, but if you delve too deep in football you’ll be alone. Just be careful that we don’t turn into saw dust trying to grind this thing into a fine pulp.”