Steve Young: “Alex is slowly becoming part of the reason why they’re winning.”

Here’s the transcript of Wednesday afternoon’s Steve Young show with the Razor and Mr. T on KNBR.


Q: Here’s Steve Young, who’s convinced us over the years that playing quarterback is an art.

YOUNG: Did you see Tom Brady in the third quarter? I want to say at the end of the third quarter they were up sixteen to nine I want to say, and he drove 82 yards on one of the better defenses in the league. That is what I’m talking about – artistry. When you’re picking and choosing and really king of embarrassing a really qualified, top-ranked defense by doing the simplest little things and doing them do so well. He was pinpoint accurate – little Danny Woodhead here, a little square out here right on the numbers, a little double move then boom. He just sat there. It was surgical. It was beautiful. It was musical to me to watch that.

Q: You convinced me that Alex wasn’t going to be good because you said Alex Smith couldn’t make plays.

YOUNG: You’re taking it out of context. I cited the Browns game on Monday night a few years ago when Brady Quinn was the quarterback. Everything was going bad with the Browns. Everything was wrong with the Browns and it was very tough to have any positives. My point being that somewhere there’s a spark in a guy’s play that tells me that with the proper help and the proper focus – I’m still alive here, I have a heartbeat, I can do something that will remind you that he can do it. It’s not just making plays, and that’s what I was concerned about Alex. The light dimmed with Alex. It dimmed for him too. I think that he started to say: “I don’t know. I’m not sure.” That’s when he started talking about going somewhere else, and I’m just telling you the effect of having a coach that calls plays for the quarterback, that focuses on his strengths and weaknesses.

Now look, there’s still problems. Their third down conversion is brutal – 3 of 11 last week. Red zone is still iffy, but they’re not making mistakes. Alex expanded on his game this week in a big moment. That’s stuff that doesn’t just go away over night. You didn’t abandon Alex. I think everybody lost the sense that he had glow left, like any ember of something to do. I think Jim came in, worked with him in the offseason and saw: “You know what? The raw ability this kid has, the aptitude he has, the things he’s gone through, the fight that he still has in him – I see it. The problem was everyone else abused him to a point where, like anything, the light went out. I think that Jim coming back started that ember going and got some flame and now how good can Alex be? I don’t think Alex knows, I don’t think we know.

Q: Jim must be the best coach of all time.

YOUNG: Let it play out. Jim would say let it play out.

Q: But this is a miracle.

YOUNG: It’s remarkable.

Q: And Green Bay’s defense isn’t that good.

YOUNG: No, no, no, don’t be fooled. Right now, no one’s going to beat the Packers. Nobody. Let me just tell you, the feel of them coming out of the locker room, the way they act, the way they play, nobody’s beating this team right now.

Q: Not just at Lambeau?

YOUNG: No one’s beating them anywhere right now. That’s just how I feel. The way that I saw them do the things they did, they toyed with Minnesota. They toyed with them in all aspects. This is a young – there’s no better locker room in the league. But let’s go back to the 49ers for a second. What was in the cookie batter during the offseason? Who was in there who you know were good players? Justin Smith all of a sudden is a great player. There’s guys all over that, and we said this last year – they have guys! That’s what was so frustrating, it wasn’t like they had no talent. So Jim inherited, and I think that’s why he was so excited: “Look, there’s some guys here. If I can strip away some of this negativity, get in this locker room and break down the stuff that keeps people apart, put some chemistry in here, get some cultural integration…we have some talent.” Jim unlocked it, and good for him.

Q: You said the Niners should put the game on Alex’s shoulders and they did exactly that last week.

YOUNG: I think he expanded on what happened last week. I think he did more. I think they pressed it a little bit and he responded. I think he made some throws that really mattered. I think that they’re building on it. Did they throw 40? No, but they threw 30. And I thought he made some big plays, and I think that Alex is slowly becoming part of the reason why they’re winning. And people always say he’s a manager – that’s 70 percent of the job! That’s what Michael Vick’s suffering from right now, is that he’s not doing the little things that are managing the football game. That’s a big piece of the puzzle and Alex is doing that in spades. If you build on that, by the end of the year what I’d love to see is Alex Smith is the reason why you’re winning. You want to talk about the Super Bowl? That’s when you can really talk about the Super Bowl is when this great defense and this offense now is not 3 for 11 on third down and 1 for 3 in the red zone, but 3 for 3 and 7 of 11. That’s the difference.

Q: What I’ve noticed, when the pass rushers get to Alex he doesn’t drop his head. That tells me he feels more confident.

YOUNG: Again, I use the abused-child metaphor. He was a broken guy. When I talked to him in the offseason he was trying to decide what to do. He wasn’t sure, but he also knew that what Jim was saying really made sense to him and I couldn’t agree more. You get a guy who has come from the Bill Walsh tree or the Bill Walsh philosophy, who understands quarterback-centric game-playing organizations – that feels good. When I went from Tampa Bay, which was as dysfunctional as anything I’ve ever seen, and I showed up in San Francisco, two things – one, Joe wasn’t hurt, that was the first realization I had, and the second was this is really cool for quarterbacks. And it still is. And that’s why my heart is so warm – it’s finally a place for quarterbacks again. And that’s not because we’re special, it’s because I believe you build off of that, and now the defense rises up, receivers are looking for the ball, the holes are bigger for Frank, people just respond. Everybody gets better. Everybody plays better when the quarterback’s making it happen.

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