49ers' Young faces new challenge

January 31, 1995|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

MIAMI -- George Seifert finally said it publicly yesterday.

Even though the San Diego Chargers were the foes in the Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers' coach said they weren't their toughest opponent this season, never mind this decade.

In his news conference the day after the 49ers routed the Chargers, 49-26, in Super Bowl XXIX, Seifert said: "I must say, and I've said it before, in the 15 years I've been with the 49ers, we've never competed against a team better than the Dallas Cowboys. The Dallas Cowboys were the toughest team we've played against, both talent-wise and the way they were put together."

Though team president Carmen Policy said the day of the team's 38-28 victory over the Cowboys in the NFC title game that the Super Bowl would be "anticlimactic," the 49ers were careful last week not to downgrade the Chargers.

They didn't want to give them any bulletin-board material. But the Super Bowl was anticlimactic.

The 49ers now will face the usual challenges of staying on top. They have to deal with the salary cap and free agency -- which they handled so well this past year -- and the possibility they might lose both of their coordinators, Mike Shanahan on offense and Ray Rhodes on defense, to head coaching opportunities.

They also have to find a way to stay ahead of the Cowboys. And much of that responsibility will fall to quarterback Steve Young.

Young, who took a detour to the U.S. Football League and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before joining the 49ers in 1987, had to endure years of trying to live up to the legend of Joe Montana before he finally got to the top.

After a night of not getting much sleep, Young said yesterday: "If what happened throughout this time got me to this point right now with you here, then let me go back and start over again. I'll do the same thing."

Looking back at his days when he signed a $40 million deal with the USFL's Los Angeles Express, and then watched the team fold, he said: "Even though it ended up being very bizarre and a crazy time, I look back on those days with fondness. A lot of the teammates that I had and the people that I knew are still friends to this day. And in the end, isn't that really what it ends up being? In 10 years, I'll have the ring, but I'll have the relationships that will be more important."

Young also said that he would have had a good life even if he never had won a Super Bowl.

"It meant a lot to me personally to be able to play that way in the big game and to win it in the nature that we did. . . . But I want you to know that individually outside of my profession that if it hadn't happened, that I still would have been a very happy person," he said. "It's just that as a professional football player, it's the pinnacle of a career and it'll always be something that I'll be very proud of.

"Outside of football, hopefully, I'll have a life of many other accomplishments whether I pursue my law degree in the future or with my family. Hopefully, I'm not just a one-dimensional person."

Young joked about his celebrated confrontation on the sidelines with Seifert when the coach pulled him during a 40-8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this season.

Would he do it again? "Oh, yeah, I think it's important to keep him in his place," Young said. "You don't want a coach running amok or anything."

The future couldn't look much brighter for Young, as he figures to be flooded with endorsement opportunities.

"Hopefully, we don't do anything goofy," Young said. "But you never know."

Young is good at keeping up the right image. When he was presented with a new car for being the Super Bowl MVP, he said: "I'm not sure what I'm going to do with a new car. I'm kind of panicked about the whole thing. I think what I'll do is just take it out, scratch it up and beat on it a little bit and then I'll feel much better about it."

Young was noted for driving an old, beat-up car when he signed with the USFL. Young didn't mention that he now drives a Porsche.

Young is 33, a time when many athletes start to near the end. But he was on the sidelines so long, he figures he's in the middle of his career.

"Especially today, I've aged backward a number of years in the last 24 hours," he said.

SUPER RECORDS

Records set in Super Bowl XXIX on Sunday in Miami:

INDIVIDUAL

Game

* TD passes: 6, Steve Young, S.F. (previous: 5, Joe Montana, S.F., 1990).

* Highest punting avg. (min. 4 punts): 48.8, Bryan Wagner, S.D. (previous: 48.5, Jerrel Wilson, K.C., 1970).

* Kickoff returns: 8, Andre Coleman, S.D. (previous: 7, Stephen Starring, N. England, 1986).

* Kickoff return yds.: 242, Andre Coleman, S.D. (previous: 190, Fulton Walker, Miami, 1983).

Career

* Points: 42, Jerry Rice, S.F.. (previous: 24, Franco Harris, Pitt.; Roger Craig, S.F.; Jerry Rice, S.F.; Thurman Thomas, Buff.).

* TDs: 7, Jerry Rice, S.F. (previous: 4, Franco Harris, Pitt.; Roger Craig, S.F.; Jerry Rice, S.F.; Thurman Thomas, Buff.).

* Receptions: 28, Jerry Rice, S.F. (previous: 27, Andre Reed, Buff.).

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