In the NFL, it’s nearly impossible to replace a legend.
After all, not everyone can maintain or replicate the success of a player who has lifted a franchise to untold heights.
On rare occasions, however, the next man up can exceed expectations and write his own legacy.
That’s what happened to Steve Young.
Steve Young (former San Francisco 49ers @49ers) QB 1985-1999 pic.twitter.com/FuzJ0dX9nA
— American Football 画像 (@AFpicture_japan) November 23, 2015
When the San Francisco 49ers traded for him in 1987, the team already had quarterback Joe Montana, who had brought the franchise its first two Super Bowl wins.
Young wasn’t considered a threat to Montana’s spot in the lineup. That was confirmed when the organization won two more championships under Montana’s guidance.
It was hard to ignore Young’s talent, though. When the team traded Montana late in his career, Young took his place and continued winning.
He would bring San Francisco yet another Super Bowl win and become a hall-of-fame quarterback like Montana before him.
This is the remarkable story of Steve Young.
Jon Steven Young was born on October 11, 1961, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Young family is direct descendants of Brigham Young, founder of Salt Lake City and the second president of the Latter-Day Saints church.
Steve Young is a great-great-great-grandson of Brigham Young.
Steve Young in 1983, posing next to a statue of Brigham Young, his great-great-great-grandfather. Seriously. pic.twitter.com/gFOTOzxb
— SI Vault (@si_vault) May 11, 2012
When Steve was in elementary school, the Young family moved east to Greenwich, Connecticut.
Not long after arriving in Greenwich, Young began playing the game of football and took to the sport quickly.
He was a gifted athlete who also played basketball and baseball. He was a team captain in all three sports at Greenwich High School.
When he wasn’t playing a sport, Young was studious and one of the brightest kids in his class.
However, years later, Young would reveal that the pressure to succeed in everything he did led him to a struggle with anxiety.
In fact, it took everything in him to get through each day.
“You wake up and you see the crack of the morning dawn, and you’re like, ‘Ohhhhhh.’ And you’d have this dread, like, ‘Ohhhh, not another one.’ At its root,” Young said in 2017, “is this desperation, like, I gotta make something happen. So why not run out of bounds? Well, because I can’t run out of bounds!”
Run First and Often
Young did plenty of running.
As a quarterback for the Cardinals, Young could throw the ball, but his forte was running, and he did it well.
Has been since at least the late 1970s.
Future Hall of Famer Steve Young scrambles against Norwalk, Sept. 1979. (Photo Credit: The Greenwich Time) pic.twitter.com/V2Xn2n8jyC
— The Real Vaxmaa (@TheRealSzymaa) March 1, 2019
Greenwich used an option offense, and Young was a perfect fit.
He passed the ball occasionally, throwing for more than 1,200 yards as a senior. He also ran with reckless abandon and tallied almost 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns on 267 carries.
After a junior year in which Young made the FCIAC West Division first team, he repeated the honor the following year as a senior and was also an all-state selection.
On the hardwood, Young averaged 15 points per game and hit over .380 on the diamond.
Young also pitched for Greenwich and threw a no-hitter while losing only one game as a senior.
Young Goes to BYU
As he neared his high school graduation, plenty of schools were courting Young, but programs that passed the ball shied away from him.
On film, the coaches at these programs saw a terrific scrambler, but not a particularly good passer.
Coach Dick Crum at the University of North Carolina wanted Young to play in his option offense.
However, Young wanted to try his hand with a school known for its quarterback play and willingness to launch the pigskin early and often.
Young’s father, LeGrande (or “Grit” as he was called) played football at BYU in the 1950s and led the Cougars in total offense in 1959.
Young wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and also play for head coach Lavell Edwards.
It's an important day for BYU fans. Steve Young AND LaVell Edwards' birthdays. HBD to the two greats!! pic.twitter.com/QuTTEgY56c
— Jess and Mary (@cougsoncougs) October 11, 2016
He was given the opportunity to return to Utah and play for BYU, but he had a huge learning curve.
After arriving in Provo in 1980, it was immediately evident to the Cougars’ coaches that Young wasn’t the best passer. They considered moving him to the secondary.
After all, he was buried on the depth chart with almost no hope of becoming the starter.
Discouraged, Young considered dropping out and returning home, until he had a conversation with his father.
“OK, Steve, you can quit,” said Grit. “But you can’t come home!”
That was all it took for Steve Young to settle in for the long haul.
Young Rises on the Depth Chart
“When things are hard and you’re young, a lot of times, you’re looking for exit doors,” Young said. “There are no exits unless you open it up. So you have to have the will to never open up one that you’re not sure is the right thing.”
Instead of giving up, Young’s competitiveness worked to his advantage and he practiced his tail off to improve as a passer.
Jim McMahon became the starter in 1980 and led the Cougars to a 12-1 record and a one-point win in the Holiday Bowl.
In 1981, Young started a few games when McMahon was injured and threw for 731 yards, five touchdowns, and five interceptions.
He also rushed 52 times for 233 yards.
QB Steve Young at BYU. #49ers #FTTB pic.twitter.com/Dsg5ERv2hF
— 49er_Edits (@49er_edits) November 5, 2022
Then, the Cougars played in the Holiday Bowl for the fourth straight year.
At one point during the contest, Young snuck onto the field along with McMahon.
After the snap, McMahon pitched the ball to Young, who acted like he was going to run the ball, before passing it to Gordon Hudson for 26 yards.
The play set up a BYU touchdown in the first quarter and the Cougars eventually won, 38-36, over Washington State University.
Young Becomes the Cougars’ Starter
In the first round of the 1982 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears selected McMahon with the fifth overall pick.
Now that McMahon was playing pro ball, Young became the Cougars’ starter in 1982.
Steve Young: Currently ESPN analyst #BYU pic.twitter.com/IPK0YjeiOU
— 🌶️Ys Guide🌶️ (@YsGuide) December 5, 2015
As expected by his coaches, Young excelled and passed for 3,100 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions.
On the ground, Young added 407 yards and 10 scores.
He also set an NCAA record for consecutive completions in a season with 22, spread over two games.
He was named Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-WAC.
BYU lost four games that season, including a 30-point loss to Ohio State in the Holiday Bowl.
One year later, Young and the Cougars were one of the best teams in the country.
The Cougars lost their first game of the 1983 season to Baylor by four points.
They wouldn’t lose again as they finished with 11 wins including a 21-17 victory over Missouri in the Holiday Bowl.
During the Missouri game, Young scored on a halfback pass to win the game. He also passed and ran for touchdowns during the contest.
#BYU QB Steve Young celebrates a TD in the Cougars dramatic 1983 #HolidayBowl win over Missouri. pic.twitter.com/f9CEuZuXUH
— Retro Sports (@RetroSports411) December 31, 2015
Meanwhile, Young set the NCAA on fire by passing for 3,902 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 10 picks. His 71.3% completion rate set an NCAA record.
Young also rushed for 444 yards and eight scores.
With Young leading the way by air and ground, BYU averaged a then-NCAA record with 584.2 yards per game in 1983.
Voters unanimously named him an All-American, WAC Offensive Player of the Year, and first-team All-WAC, and won the Davey O’Brien and Sammy Baugh Awards while finishing second to Nebraska’s Mike Rozier in the Heisman race.
In his college career, Young passed for 7,733 yards, 56 touchdowns, 33 interceptions, and had 1,084 rushing yards and 18 scores on the ground.
He set seven WAC records and 13 NCAA records during his time at BYU.
The Cougars retired Young’s number 8 was retired, and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
Young Signs with the USFL
In the Spring of 1983, the United States Football League (USFL) began play.
A number of college players who would have normally gone to the NFL after their college eligibility expired jumped to the new league, which promised more money.
In the first round of the 1984 USFL draft, the Los Angeles Express selected Young with the 11th overall pick.
The NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals had pulled off a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they also wanted to draft Young.
Cincinnati’s plan was to sit him for a year behind longtime veteran Ken Anderson and have Young start in 1985.
Although the franchise was only three years removed from playing in a Super Bowl, Young didn’t find that prospect appealing.
He decided to join forces with the Express (the Bengals would draft Maryland’s Boomer Esiason).
Steve Young during his USFL days with the Los Angeles Express. @USFL @theusflproject @VUSFL2018 @SteveYoungQB @ProFootballHOF pic.twitter.com/o9eYZ52xCf
— NFL Classic! (@79_nfl) April 21, 2022
In order to entice Young to play with the USFL, LA’s owner, J. William Oldenberg, came up with a nifty contract idea.
Oldenburg would pay Young $40 million over four years, except that the money would be paid out over 40 years by way of an annuity.
All that was left was for Young to fund the annuity, but he never did.
“We never funded the annuity. The owner was so crazy, it had to stay in his name for 45 years,” Young said. “So they gave me the option to take the money, which I think was $1 million bucks or $900,000 to fund the annuity—either take that money or fund the annuity—I just took the money. The whole idea of the annuity is false advertising.”
Young Leads the Express
As the starting quarterback for LA, Young led the franchise to a 10-8 record in 1984 while passing for 2,361 yards, 10 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.
The Express had a talented roster that included future NFL players such as Tony Zendejas, Jo Jo Townsell, Mel Gray, Mark Adickes, and Gary Zimmerman.
LA made it to the Western Conference Final where they fell to the Arizona Wranglers, 35-23.
Future Hall of Famer Steve Young of the 1984 USFL Los Angeles Express is being taken down by the New Jersey Generals James Lockett. pic.twitter.com/Ow78LghPbH
— Cool Old Sports (@CoolOldSports) August 23, 2022
As the 1985 season was about to get underway, there were rumblings in the press that Oldenberg was not as financially well off as he claimed to be.
While the USFL investigated the Express owner, the team began the 1985 season against quarterback Jim Kelly and the Houston Gamblers.
With under 10 minutes remaining in the contest, LA held a comfortable 33-13 lead.
Kelly wouldn’t let his team give up and began a furious comeback.
Here's Steve Young and Jim Kelly asking each other if their USFL checks bounced…then later complimenting each other on their sharp NFL uniforms. pic.twitter.com/Arf44mSAOm
— 80s Sports N Stuff (@80sSportsNStuff) August 23, 2018
Before the final whistle blew, the Gamblers had roared back as Kelly threw three touchdown passes including the game-winner to future Washington Redskins receiver Ricky Sanders.
The game ended with Houston on top 34-33 and Sports Illustrated called it “the greatest game no one saw” since the league had chosen to televise New Jersey Generals quarterback Doug Flutie’s first USFL game.
“I’ve been in some comebacks before, but never anything like that,” Kelly said after the game. “Pulling out that win was the best feeling I ever had in my life.”
Young Ditches the Express
Things didn’t get much better for LA in 1985.
With essentially the same roster, the team struggled with several injuries and fell to 3-15.
Young passed for 1,741 yards, six touchdowns, and 13 picks in 10 games in 1984.
Happy birthday to Los Angeles Express quarterback Steve Young! #usfl @4everYoungFndtn pic.twitter.com/tMLMrzbMz6
— The USFL Project (@theusflproject) October 11, 2020
By the end of the season, Oldenburg had been called to task and he stopped paying the bills for his team.
The USFL was left to cover the organization’s expenses which didn’t include paying for players to replace injured LA players.
In the final game of the season, Young was used as a running back because the team did not have any healthy backs left.
When the season finally and mercifully ended, Young issued the USFL an ultimatum to find a new owner for the Los Angeles Express or allow him to go to the NFL.
Tampa Bay Signs Young
There wasn’t much the USFL could do.
The league was hemorrhaging money and the Generals’ owner, Donald Trump, conspired to move the league to the fall to make the NFL merge with the USFL. (This move was unsuccessful.)
Thankfully, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers threw Young a lifeline.
In the 1984 special supplemental draft for USFL and CFL players, the Bucs selected Young with the first pick.
Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young played 2 seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after playing 2 seasons in the USFL. The Bucs traded him to the San Francisco 49ers where he flourished, winning 3 Super Bowl's and 2 MVP's #SteveYoung #TampaBayBuccaneers #TampaBay #Bucs #football pic.twitter.com/keQraslMF0
— The Thrill of Victory (@ThrillVictory) February 11, 2021
Young was more than happy to bolt the troubled Express. The USFL let him buy out his LA contract for $1.2 million.
“We felt that in the best interests of both Steve Young and the USFL that he should be released from his contract,” said USFL Commissioner Harry Usher.
Tampa then signed Young for six years and $5 million with a $1 million signing bonus.
Tough Times in Tampa
Unfortunately for Young, his new situation in Tampa Bay wasn’t much better than playing for the Express.
The Bucs had been just one game from the Super Bowl in 1979 and were in the playoffs as recently as 1982.
In 1983 and 1984 combined, the team won exactly eight games.
Young started five games in 1985 and passed for 935 yards, three touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
There’s just a little part of you that wonders what Steve Young could’ve done in Tampa Bay, right? pic.twitter.com/xxKDATQncj
— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) January 10, 2020
He also scrambled for 233 yards and a touchdown.
Tampa Bay won two games for the second time in three years.
Then, before the 1986 NFL Draft, Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse botched an attempt to woo Auburn’s Bo Jackson.
In an attempt to show Jackson how much the team wanted him, Culverhouse flew him to Tampa in the spring of 1986.
That flight was a direct violation of NCAA policy and cost Jackson his final season of college baseball.
Angered over the fiasco, Jackson swore that he would not sign with the team and would play pro baseball instead.
April 29, 1986: Bo Jackson was the 1st player selected in the NFL Draft by Tampa Bay. #80s He refused to play for Tampa & went to play baseball for the Royals instead. pic.twitter.com/m9vnVmRSfm
— Old School 80s (@OldSchool80s) April 29, 2021
Not to be deterred, Culverhouse drafted Jackson anyway. Jackson countered by signing with MLB’s Kansas City Royals.
With no Jackson in the backfield, Young handed off to James Wilder Sr., who ran for 704 yards and two scores in 1986.
The 1986 Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Steve Young and James Wilder finished 2-14…but hey, they were 2 overtime losses away from 4-12. pic.twitter.com/zt9guHyhaH
— 80s Sports N Stuff (@80sSportsNStuff) August 22, 2018
Young passed for 2,282 yards, eight touchdowns, and 13 picks while adding 425 more yards and five scores on the ground.
Tampa Trades Young
After the 1986 season, the Bucs decided that Young was a bust and looked to replace him.
In the 1987 NFL Draft, the franchise selected University of Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde and sought trade partners to ship Young.
Just when he appeared down on his luck with his ego in tatters, the San Francisco 49ers made a deal with Tampa Bay.
Today in #49ers history: San Francisco trades second- and fourth-round picks to the Buccaneers for quarterback Steve Young on April 24, 1987. pic.twitter.com/pyrVbIrScQ
— Gold Rush (@levisstadium49) April 24, 2019
The two-time Super Bowl winners already had Joe Montana, but they wanted Young as a backup.
“We think Steve’s style of play will fit into our system and he will be able to display his vast talents,” said coach Bill Walsh.
San Francisco gave up two draft picks and money to get Young, but the coaching staff and front office believed they were getting a quarterback for the future.
Young was also reunited with Mike Holmgren, his former position coach at BYU and now the Niners’ quarterbacks coach.
“I believe that any quarterback coming into this system can reach his potential,” Holmgren said.
In an effort to ensure that he wasn’t alienating Montana, Walsh made it clear that the team only signed Young as a backup to their franchise QB.
“This move is not a reflection on Joe Montana. We fully expect Joe to continue as the leader and mainstay of our team,” Walsh added. “Steve will compete with Montana, Jeff Kemp, and Bob Gagliano for a position on our team.”
It didn’t take long for Young to climb the roster and become Montana’s number two by the start of 1987.
However, Young would have to bide his time before seeing any real action.
In 1987, Montana missed three games due to injury and Young stepped in to pass for 570 yards, 10 touchdowns, and zero picks and adding another score on the ground.
San Francisco made it to the Divisional round that year but lost to the Vikings.
The following year, the Niners went 10-6 and advanced to Super Bowl XXIII against the Bengals and won their third world title, 20-16.
Young started three games again when Montana was sidelined with an injury and passed for 680 yards, three touchdowns, three interceptions, and one rushing touchdown.
In 1989, Montana won the NFL MVP award while leading the Niners to their second straight championship with a 55-10 victory in Super Bowl XXIV against the Denver Broncos.
Joe Montana and Steve young Finna do a commercial because of @Less_HumbleTeej bruh 😭😭😭 “we were so good after joe left that you almost thought I was his son “steve Montana” pic.twitter.com/HbZ4bNrL0g
— phillyNigga (@phillydrew72OO) January 21, 2023
Young did his part, though, and started three more games, racking up 1,001 passing yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions, and two rushing scores.
In a Week 7 game against New England, Young passed for 188 yards and three scores, missing on only one of his passes for a 158.3 passer rating in the 37-20 win.
San Fransisco then looked to three-peat in 1990 and was well on its way.
Montana was named NFL MVP for the second year in a row and took the team to the NFC Championship game against the New York Giants.
Young watched from the sidelines as Montana faced a withering Giants’ pass rush.
Late in the fourth quarter, Montana was crushed by defensive end Leonard Marshall and forced from the game.
Young came in to try and get the victory, but the New York defense proved too tough. The Niners lost 15-13.
Young Struggles in 1991
It turned out that the injury Montana suffered in the NFC title game was severe enough that he was forced to miss the entire 1991 season.
What should have been a coming-out party for Young was anything but.
At one point, the Niners were 2-4 and Young was mired in a bit of a slump.
In Week 10 against Atlanta, Young connected with receiver John Taylor on a Niners-record 97-yard touchdown bomb.
He was injured, and backup Steve Bono entered the contest.
#49ers QB Steve Bono (1989–93) went 5-1 in 1991 taking over for the injured Steve Young. Bono held onto the starting job despite Young's recovery. However, Bono's own injury would cost him his starting job. SF barely missed the playoffs. #Random49ers #Every49ersStartingQB pic.twitter.com/iFrVV9AYcP
— #Random49ers (@Random49ers) June 26, 2022
While Young was out with his injury, Bono led the team to five straight wins. He continued to start even after Young returned to health.
It wasn’t until Bono himself was injured that Young returned to the starter’s role.
Despite the fact that San Francisco finished the season 10-6, the team missed the playoffs while Young ended the year with 2,517 yards, 17 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 415 rushing yards, and four rushing scores and led the NFL in passer rating with 101.8.
Young Is the NFL MVP
Before the 1992 season began, San Francisco management had a major decision on their hands.
Montana was looking to return from his injury, and Bono had played well enough in 1991 to challenge Young.
At one point, the organization toyed with the idea of trading Young to the Los Angeles Raiders, but nothing came of it.
Fun fact. In 1992, the 49ers and Raiders almost completed a Steve Young for Tim Brown trade. The Raiders balked when the 49ers demanded the Raiders include their 1st and 2nd picks in 1992. pic.twitter.com/ziCXvWlcwL
— FB_Helmet_Guy (@FB_Helmet_Guy) September 26, 2022
As Week 1 approached, it became clear that Montana was not yet ready to return from his injury and the Niners ended up keeping all three quarterbacks.
Young was named the starting quarterback to begin the season but he was replaced again by Bono when Young received a concussion against the Giants in Week 1.
Bono led the team to victory in the game and Young was cleared to return for Week 2.
Head coach George Seifert decided to keep Young as the starter, and he responded well.
Even though San Fran lost their Week 2 game, Young caught fire and helped the Niners win all but one of their final 14 games.
For the first time in his pro career, Young was feeling it and began playing up to the expectations he was capable of.
Happy Birthday, Steve Young:
1992 and 1994 AP NFL MVP
Super Bowl XXIV MVP (6 TD Passes)
7X Pro Bowl
5X NFL Completion % Leader
4X NFL TD Pass Leader
3X AP 1st Team All-Pro
3X AP 2nd Team All-Pro
33,124 Passing Yards
232 Passing TDs
4,239 Rushing Yards
43 Rushing TDs pic.twitter.com/cJsuq72AG1
— Jim Miloch (@podoffame) October 12, 2022
In 1992, he passed for 3,465 yards, 25 touchdowns, and seven picks to go along with a career-high 537 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns.
Young led the NFL in several categories including passing touchdowns, completion percentage (66.7%), interception percentage (1.7%), and passer rating (107.0).
He was named the NFL’s MVP and Bert Bell Award winner, the league’s Offensive Player of the Year, the UPI’s NFC Offensive Player of the Year, a first-team All-Pro, and voted to his first Pro Bowl.
San Francisco had a 14-2 regular season and defeated Washington in the Divisional round before losing to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship game.
Young Takes Over the Niners
Although Young had just been named the league MVP in 1992, 49ers management wanted Montana to return as the starter in 1993.
Now fully healthy from his injury two years prior, Montana was ready to resume where he left off in 1990.
However, several players in the Niners’ locker room believed it was Young’s turn to lead the team. He had proven he could do so the previous year.
At Montana’s request, San Fran traded their now former franchise quarterback to the Kansas City Chiefs, officially making the Niners Steve Young’s team.
Lessons from Joe Cool
What Tom Brady can learn from Joe Montana's time with Kansas City, by @ConorOrr: https://t.co/nPvX0ftQkg pic.twitter.com/CE4f7KXUCG
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) August 16, 2020
Young injured his throwing thumb early in the ’93 season and tossed eight interceptions to begin the year.
Then, a week after the team’s bye week, the Niners lost to the Dallas Cowboys, putting their record at 3-3.
Thankfully, Young’s thumb healed, and he went on a tear.
For the rest of the season, he led the Niners to a 7-3 finish and a 10-6 overall record.
Young threw for more than 4,000 yards for the first time in his career. He also led the NFL in numerous categories including touchdowns (29) and passer rating (101.5).
He also had over 400 rushing yards for the third consecutive year and was a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler.
Steve Young turns 6️⃣1️⃣ today.
🏈 3x Super Bowl Champion
🏈 Super Bowl XXIX MVP
🏈 2x League MVP
🏈 2005 Hall of Fame Inductee
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 11, 2022
In the 1993 playoffs, the Cowboys ended the Niners’ year once again in the NFC Championship, 38-21.
A Second MVP and a Super Bowl Victory
When Niners’ management looked ahead to the 1994 season, they realized that they would have to plan for another date with the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs.
The Cowboys had upended San Francisco the previous two years, and the score in 1993 wasn’t even close.
They had a talented core, but they needed more pieces to get to the Super Bowl.
To that end, the team added several high-profile players including all-world cornerback Deion Sanders, former Cowboys linebacker Ken Norton Jr., former Chargers linebacker Gary Plummer, former Chicago Bear great Richard Dent, former Green Bay sack master Tim Harris, former Saints linebacker Rickey Jackson, and defensive end Charles Mann, two-time Super Bowl winner with the Washington Redskins.
Those key pieces helped San Francisco win 13 games. (They lost to Montana and the Chiefs in Week 2.)
Young was named the NFL MVP and Bert Bell Award winner for the second time.
28 years ago today. January 15, 1995. Candlestick Park. NFC Championship Game. San Francisco 49ers vs Dallas Cowboys.
After losing to the Cowboys for two straight years with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, the third time was the charm as Steve Young and the 49ers would pic.twitter.com/ESE22C5ozx
— 𝓜𝓪𝓻𝓼𝓪𝓵𝓲𝓼 ⓥ (@iammarsalis) January 15, 2023
In 1994, Young passed for 3,969 yards, 35 touchdowns (a team record), and 10 picks and had a career-high seven rushing scores.
He led the league in numerous categories including completion percentage (70.3), passing touchdowns, and passer rating (112.8, which broke Montana’s team record).
Young was also named the UPI’s NFC Offensive Player of the Year, first-team All-Pro, and went to his third Pro Bowl.
Better yet, San Fran did indeed meet Dallas in the NFC title game for the third year in a row and this time the 49ers bested their rival, 38-28.
325 yards and SIX touchdowns 😳
Steve Young SHOWED OUT in Super Bowl XXIX.
Greatest Super Bowl QB performance ever? pic.twitter.com/FxCzftfLVf
— NFL Legacy (@NFLLegacy) August 7, 2019
In Super Bowl XXIX against the San Diego Chargers, Young feasted on the Chargers’ defense by throwing for 325 yards and a game-record six touchdowns (passing Montana’s previous record of five) on the way to a decisive 49-26 victory.
“Is this great or what? I mean, I haven’t thrown six touchdown passes in a game in my life,” commented Young after the game. “Then I throw six in the Super Bowl! Unbelievable.”
For his efforts that afternoon, Young was named Super Bowl MVP.
Just when the 49ers vanquished one foe, another one took its place.
Beginning in 1995, the Green Bay Packers beat the Niners three straight years in the playoffs, including the NFC Championship game in 1997.
When he wasn’t beset by injuries, Young continued his high rate of play.
Between 1995 and 1997, he led the league in completion percentage and also yards per game in 1995 and passer rating in 1996 and 1997.
Young went to the Pro Bowl each year and was voted a second-team All-Pro in 1995 and 1997.
In 1998, he passed for a career-high 4,170 yards and led the league with a career-high 36 touchdown passes against 12 picks and also led the NFL in yards per game (278).
On the ground, Young added 454 yards and six touchdowns and was a second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler.
"He caught it! He caught it! He caught it!"
Steve Young to @terrellowens. "The Catch II", a play @49ers fans will never forget.
📺: #NFL100 Greatest Plays on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/SrsjPH1beY
— NFL (@NFL) September 21, 2019
In the Wild Card round, the Niners finally defeated Green Bay, 30-27, on a Young pass to receiver Terrell Owens for the game-winning touchdown with only three seconds left.
San Francisco lost to Atlanta in the Divisional round the following week, 20-18.
Concussions Force Young to Retire
The 1999 season had barely begun when Arizona Cardinals corner Aeneas Williams crushed Young.
The impact forced Young from the game. He was found to have a concussion.
On this day in 1999, Steve Young is temporarily knocked out on a hit against the Cardinals on #MNF.
It was his seventh career concussion. He would miss the rest of the year.
After that season, he would announce his retirement. #49ers #Random49ers #FTTB pic.twitter.com/tMJXAWHMDp
— #Random49ers (@Random49ers) September 27, 2022
Post-concussion syndrome kept Young tethered to the sideline for the remainder of the season.
When the Niners’ disappointing years four through 12 came to an end, San Francisco’s management told Young they would not bring him back due to his frequent concussions.
Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan reached out and told Young he could be Denver’s starting quarterback, but Young declined and decided to retire.
Throughout his career, Young passed for 33,124 yards, 232 touchdowns, and 107 interceptions and rushed for 4,239 yards (fifth-best all-time) and 43 scores.
Young won the Super Bowl three times and became a Super Bowl MVP. He also was NFL MVP twice as well as an NFL Offensive Player of the Year. He also won UPI NFC Offensive Player of the Year twice. Young was a first-team and second-team All-Pro twice each, a seven-time Pro Bowler, and led the NFL in passing touchdowns four times, passer rating six times, and completion percentage five times.
Additionally, the San Francisco 49ers inducted Young into their Hall of Fame. The organization also retired his number 8.
Although concussions may have forced him from the game, Young has been active in retirement.
While he was still playing in the NFL, Young enrolled in BYU’s law school and graduated with his Juris Doctorate in 1994.
In 2005, he became the first left-handed quarterback to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
His Hall bio speaks volumes about how Young motivated himself to achieve success.
“Outside stuff never did affect me very much because I’m basically driven from within. I don’t like to compete against others. For me, it’s about self-improvement and being better than I was the day before.”
In 2007, Young co-founded a private equity firm, Huntsman Gay Global Capital, and he continues to be active in his Forever Young Foundation which he founded to serve disadvantaged children.
Steve Young stayed loyal to his former team as the only ESPN analyst to pick the 49ers to win Monday nighthttps://t.co/ofKltBEibk pic.twitter.com/eJbPunajgL
— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) November 17, 2021
When he isn’t busy with his business or various charities, Young can be seen as an ESPN talking head and analyzing NFL games for the network.
Young married Barbara Graham in 2000, and the couple has four kids.
Leave a Reply