Steve Young: I want the 49ers to be great

Steve Young’s weekly appearance on KNBR is must-listen radio.

Tune in to the segment and you automatically gain 10 football IQ points.

The 49ers Hall-of-Fame quarterback turned ESPN analyst is knowledgeable, communicates his expertise eloquently and, on the subject of his former team, he’s fiercely passionate.

This week, Young’s 30-minute KNBR segment was particularly interesting given the transitional state of the 49ers.

I plan to do a separate blog on what, to me, was the most compelling part: Young’s thoughts on the Niners and their failure to embrace their legacy — Bill Walsh and the West Coast Offense.

In the meantime, here’s some other nuggets from the interview with Niners play-by-play man Ted Robinson:

Plenty of bloggers and talk-show callers have nominated Young as the 49ers next general manager. Young was asked if he had any interest. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t. But it sounded like he’d be interested in some sort of (presumably unofficial) advisory role:

“I’m always willing to help. But GM, coach, I talked to (former Buccaneers and Falcons GM) Richie McKay about that. It’s like Dan Marino trying to be the GM or John Elway … It’s just a different job that takes a different person. So the answer’s no. I don’t think I could ever be the GM or the coach. But if you ask me for my opinion off of the radio, I absolutely will give it. And I will give it my thousand percent because I want the 49ers to be great.”

Young was asked about Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the NFL draft if he leaves school early. Like everyone else, he’s a fan:

“I watched Luck play and he did things that are pro. And so that’s why everyone thinks he’s so good because he’s already ready. He’s looking people off, throwing down the middle without watching safeties. Jim (Harbaugh) has done a great job preparing him to go pro. And I haven’t seen a guy like that, just all the elements of it. I haven’t seen a guy come out recently that I was so excited about. I just think that he is really something special.”

Young discussed Washington quarterback Jake Locker, who will likely be among the next few quarterbacks drafted after Luck. San Francisco could be a logical landing spot, but not if Young was the GM:

“I’m not inspired. I watched him play BYU and BYU wasn’t great this year. People play bad and play good. You know, up and down. But I do want to see, game in and game out  … somewhere, somehow you show me a spark that’s ‘Hey, look, things are not going well or I don’t have a very good team, but I can take care of some things.’ And I just didn’t see him do that. So, to my mind, if you can’t show me that in college, then good luck showing me in the pros.”

(Note: Locker completed 20 of 37 passes for 266 yards with a TD and no INTs in a 23-17 win against BYU).

Young was asked about the falling out between Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Donovan McNabb. Given the messy situation, and the Niners need for a quarterback, it’s been speculated that McNabb could end up in San Francisco as a fill-in while a young quarterback was groomed. Shanahan was the 49ers offensive coordinator from 1992-94. And based on his relationship with Shanahan, Young speculated that McNabb had himself to blame for his demise in Washington:

“If you work hard and if you play hard, Mike will give you all the leeway you want. If you don’t work hard — I’m just telling you from my experience — if you don’t work hard, you don’t play hard, you don’t focus, then you might as well walk out the door. So I’ve got to assume from my own experience that Donovan kind of set his own table there.”

Young was asked about Mike Singletary’s in-your-face handling of quarterbacks. Big shock – he wasn’t a fan:

“He said at the beginning of the year – quarterback’s just another position. Well that might sound fun and good, but if you feel that way … My gosh, let’s be honest about what the position is. And let’s have someone around that really understands how to deal with quarterbacks.”

Young discussed the supreme importance of the quarterback position. He mentioned how even defensive-minded coaches – not all of them, of course – recognize the quarterback is the most important player on the field:

“If you don’t have a quarterback, you don’t play football. You’re not competitive. You’re just fiddle-faddling around. Every GM I talk to says you’ve got to have a quarterback. Even old defensive coaches like Herm Edwards say look, if you gave me the No. 1 defense in the league to start a team or a great quarterback, I would leave the defense behind. Give me the quarterback because I’ve played without a quarterback and you can’t play … I can play with a semi-good defense and tactically go after people and get aggressive and give a Knute Rockne speech every week. I can play some defense. But you can’t find a quarterback.”

Young on Alex Smith now auditioning for the rest of the NFL:

“You’ve got to believe that every throw matters. Every time you walk out on the field, you’re playing for a chance to keep your career alive. So he should take very advantage of that because two weeks ago when they played the Seahawks and they played so well — you come off of that and every general manager in the league that’s looking for a quarterback says ‘Well, hey, if I could bottle that up, I might take a peek at that.’”

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