Vince Young vs. Alex Smith.
That’s the matchup Sunday at the ‘Stick when the Titans visit to play the 49ers. Young and Smith are former high draft picks who lost their starting jobs for various reasons.
Now, both are trying to remake their careers with their original teams. Both made their first starts of the season a week ago.
Young, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 draft, lost his starting job to Kerry Collins. With mostly Collins at the controls, the Titans went 13-3 but lost in the first round of the playoffs.
But when Young was playing, the Titans have always been effective. In fact, Young’s regular-season record as a starter is now 19-11 with last week’s 30-13 victory over the Jaguars. (It didn’t hurt matters that running back Chris Johnson gained 228 yards on 24 rushes).
Meanwhile, Smith, the top pick of the 2005 draft, started for the first time in nearly two full years when the 49ers lost to the unbeaten Colts 18-14.
The 49ers beat reporters got a little surprise this morning when Young was on the other end of the line for a conference call.
Here’s the transcript of the interview this morning:
Q: Was it like riding a bike to get back on the field last week?
Young: “I wouldn’t say that easy. I was definitely nervous. Coach did a great job of getting me in rhythm. Offensive line did a great job of getting me some time to sit back and go through my reads, and receivers and tight ends made some great catches”
Q: Do you think you benefited from time off to step back and gain a greater understanding of the offense and what defenses were trying to do?
Young: “Everything. From the game and to off-the-field things that were going on. Definitely, that year off helped out a lot.”
Q: Did you ever doubt you’d be back in this position, starting again?
Young: “I always got confidence in myself, and always got much respect for whatever God has planned for me. I know He has something planned for me, so I just have to stay humble and behind the scenes take care of my own responsibilities and stay in shape and pay attention to what’s going on with our offense, as well as being a scout team quarterback and helping our defense get better every week.”
Q: Was that the big challenge, to keep mentally focused – the cliché is “one snap away”?
Young: “I definitely want to play, being the confident player that I am. I always want to do something to help out the team, but that’s what I was supposed to do, be a leader on the sideline – be the eyes for Kerry (Collins) on the sideline and to keep the team motivated and pumped up on the sideline. I feel like it was challenging, but it helped me out a lot as well.”
Q: If you could point to one thing you learned from watching Kerry Collins last year, what was it?
Young: “Patience. Let the game come to you. Don’t force it and do whatever it takes. If the defense says this or says that, just stay humble and patient and let the game come to you. Make the right reads and get the ball to the players that we have and let them take care of their responsibilities, as well”
Q: Did you feel like you put that patience to use last week?
Young: “Definitely. Being patient and letting the game come to me. Everybody expected me to go out and force it and do all this and that, but stayed prayed up and stayed relax. Like I said, sitting back and watching Kerry and how the offense functioned, and why coach called this way to do these certain things, and if it’s not there use the God-given talent I have in my legs to make something happen as well.”
Q: Was there any anxiety about having your first start back at home in front of the home fans?
Young: “I was pretty excited going against the team (
Q: When you run for a first down, do you sense the defense is frustrated and demoralized by that?
Young: “Somewhat, but they know the type of quarterback that I am. Like I said, the offensive line gives me time to go through my reads, and if one-two-three is not there, it’s time to make something happen. You see a lot of quarterbacks in the league do the same thing, buying more time to get their receivers open, and I feel like I’m blessed to do that real good, as well. So whatever it takes, throwing the ball downfield or using my legs to get the first (down), I just want to stay on the football field.”
Q: Have you followed Alex Smith, another quarterback who is trying revive his career. Do you find that interesting that you’ll be opposing each other Sunday?
Young: “Oh, yeah, I have much respect for Alex. I saw him a while back and he always has inspiring words for me, and I give him the same inspiring words when I see him. I know what he was going through, and I’m pretty sure he knows what I was going through. We both were being very patient and just waiting for when coach makes that move and when we get in there, we want to make the best of it.”
Q: How do you know Alex?
Young: “We met one of the NFL functions a while back. I don’t remember what it was. But we had a couple of words. That’s what all quarterbacks do. We just give each other some kind of encouraging words, until we see each other again and we say the same thing. That’s how we are as quarterbacks. We stick together.”
Q: When you look at the 49ers’ defense and what they’re going to try to do to you guys, what do you think the biggest challenge for you will be?
Young: “We’ll have to wait and see what those guys are going to try to do. But I feel the front-four guys, the guys on the defensive line and the linebackers are very sound, very smart, veteran guys. And I feel the guys behind them play off them. We just got to be very patient. They’re the best rushing defense, and things like that, so we have to be very patient and develop and don’t get too frustrated when things don’t work the way we want it to be. But at the same time, we have to stay humble and be patient and let the game comes. And when it happens, it’ll happen. I really feel like they’re a real, real good defense. They look real good on film.”
Q: How advantageous to you is it that the 49ers really haven’t played a running quarterback this season?
Young: “You never know. These guys are very talented. I’m not going to feed into all that. I know those guys are going to get ready to play, just like we are getting ready to play them. It’s going to be a great game. I feel like it’s going to be a really good game. I know (Patrick) Willis and (Takeo) Spikes are going to have those guys ready to go.”
Q: How well do you know Tarell Brown from the
Young: “I know him a lot, I can’t wait to see his big-head self. I’m going to try to give him a hard time and give him congrats on everything that’s going on with him. And Mike Lewis, I know him as well. And Moran Norris. I know a lot of those guys, so I’m looking forward to seeing those guys. Like I was telling some of the guys here, I can’t wait to get down there because I’ve been a big fan of the 49ers for a long time. Watching Terrell Owens score a touchdown, go to the playoffs, and Steve Young and Joe Montana, and Deion Sanders and Ken Norton Jr. So I’m looking forward to getting a chance to see the stadium and Coach (Mike) Singletary and get the chance to beat him, as well.”
Q: With Tarell Brown, a lot of 49ers fans haven’t seen him play that much. What do you remember about his play as teammates?
Young: “He’s very speedy, physical guy. He comes up and makes tackles. Very aggressive DB, just like we like them – just like I like them. (He’s) a DB you know can come up and make plays and if he has a chance to put his hands on the ball, he’ll score a touchdown with it. So I have much respect for Tarell Brown. He knows that. He knows if I get a chance to throw that ball over there, I’m going to throw a couple at him. He knows that, too.”
Q: Did you say earlier in your first reference to Tarell Brown that he has a big head?
Young: “Yeah, I see he cut his hair off, so it makes his head even bigger. (Laughs).”
Q: We’ll make sure to pass that along.
Young: “Please pass that to him. . . . Take care.”
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