With Young, fans are restless, and that's no 49er soap opera

September 30, 1991|By Bob Keisser | Bob Keisser,Knight-Ridder

LOS ANGELES -- The reunion for Ronnie Lott and Roger Craig was as pleasant as a family picnic. They met their former teammates on the Coliseum field yesterday, before 91,494 friends, and acquitted themselves nobly, professionally and, most important, successfully.

The San Francisco 49ers? The only reunion this 2-3 team is concerned about is with Joe Montana.

Steve Young, the career backup finally getting a chance with Montana's elbow hurting, didn't lose the 12-6 field goal festival to the Los Angeles Raiders, but he didn't win it, either. That's the bottom line to 49ers' watchers who have come to expect great things from Montana. Fair or not, they now expect the same of Young.

The onetime Brigham Young and Los Angeles Express star completed 18 of 35 passes for 217 yards, but could only find his two key wide receivers, Jerry Rice and John Taylor, five times all day. For three quarters, Raiders defensive lineman Howie Long had one more catch than Rice.

The lefthander often overthrew open receivers, was picked off ,, twice with very poor throws (Long and Lionel Washington), and was unable to make the big play on key possessions on the Raiders' doorstep.

"We obviously have played better," said 49ers coach George Seifert. "Steve did the best he could to rally us. It wasn't enough. [But] I think there's a helluva lot of guys involved in this thing. To point at one person and say he's the problem is unfair."

Unfair or not, that's the rumor running around the 49ers' locker room. Now detached, Craig and Lott put it into words.

"Joe would have been more patient," Craig said.

Lott said he would have been more concerned if Montana had been the quarterback on the 49ers' last fourth-quarter drive, which began at their 26 with 2:30 to go and died at the Raiders' 19.

"I've seen that [kind of drive] a lot with No. 16 [Montana]," he said.

Young's day aside, the Raiders were flush over their no-Rice defensive diet. "Ronnie helped," said Washington, who picked off a first-quarter pass. "He knows their personnel and their system."

The Raiders' offense, meanwhile, stuck to the basics. It netted just 220 yards, but it held the ball for 33:38 and mounted drives of 56, 56, 49 and 56 yards. Jeff Jaeger was a perfect 4-for-4.

Craig chatted with Rice and other former teammates on the field afterward; Lott spent more time in the 49ers' locker room than his own. "I didn't care about the personal issue," said Craig, who lTC rushed for 44 yards. "I wanted to treat the game as professionally as possible, play hard and win. You can't go on living with a grudge."

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