Young insists he has handle on juggling act 49er QB: 4 turnovers flukes, not sign of pressure lTC

January 12, 1993|By Wayne Washington | Wayne Washington,Knight-Ridder News Service

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Steve Young isn't worried.

The spell that befell him against Washington Saturday can't possibly afflict him when he's called on to lead the San Francisco 49ers against Dallas in the NFC title game Sunday.

Or can it? Was Saturday's four-turnover game a grim forecast of what 49ers fans can expect from their MVP quarterback in the biggest game of his life?

Young, 31, acknowledged that the interception he threw to A. J. Johnson in the second quarter -- the one where he rolled right and threw the ball across the field directly to Johnson -- was a mistake. But he said he performed well otherwise. The fumbles were flukes, crazy things not likely to happen again, he said.

His teammates and coaches agree.

They say Young never lost his composure, never gave up on himself or into the pressure of playing in his first playoff game.

"He was just the same old Steve Young," guard Roy Foster said. "Some quirky little things happened to him, the ball slipping out of his hands. Bloopers-type stuff, really."

Dallas' top-ranked defense is known for making opposing quarterbacks perform a few bloopers.

Just ask Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham, who was sacked five times in Dallas' 34-10 win Sunday. Cunningham never was the run-pass threat he usually is. He was limited to 160 yards passing and 22 yards in five carries.

Mike Shanahan, the 49ers' offensive coordinator, said neither Young's fumbles nor Dallas' stifling defense will force the 49ers into using their quarterback any differently than they usually do.

He also said Young played well and suggested that his fumbles might have been the result of the two-week layoff.

"He had not run the ball for a while," Shanahan said.

But in addition to the fumbles, Young made the type of poor decisions he had avoided during the regular season. One example, was the pass that slipped through Johnson's hands and into those of John Taylor for a touchdown. Young got a break on a pass he should not have thrown.

Was Young haunted by the presence of Joe Montana? Was he trying too hard to avoid a loss for which everyone would blame him?

Young thinks not. "I felt very comfortable," he said. "Very calm."

Coach George Seifert agreed.

"I thought he was playing it just about the way I'd want him to," Seifert said. "When he decided to run the ball, he was about as decisive as I've seen him this year."

Seifert said Young also held up well after the turnovers.

"A lot of people reminded him of what he had just done," Seifert said. "But that's part of the deal. I think the thing that you're always concerned about is when somebody makes a mistake, them concentrating on that mistake and not concentrating on your next plays.

"I don't think he did that. I believe that he was right back into the game then, and that's a pretty good sign of maturity."

Seifert said his decision to have Joe Montana warm up during the fourth quarter of the Washington game had nothing to do with Young's erratic play. He said he was concerned after Young had taken a hard hit following an incomplete pass.

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