The return of football season brings with it something that is wildly underrated. During football season, Steve Young makes a weekly appearance on KNBR with Tom Tolbert and Ray Ratto. I don't listen to a ton of sports talk radio, but Tolbert and Ratto do great work together, and when they bring on Steve Young, it's always must-listen radio.
Young, Tolbert, and Ratto have been doing this for several years, and the three of them have a fantastic chemistry. They talk plenty of 49ers football, as well as general NFL talk, but they are able to get into personal stuff. Young can talk about his family, his golf game, and generally whatever else is going on, and it flows completely naturally.
It sounds like Young will be appearing every Wednesday this season. He was on the air last Wednesday, and you can listen to the full interview HERE. I believe you'll be able to find the archived interviews here as well, but 49ers.com usually embeds the interviews each week.
That last interview ran 28 minutes, and touched on a broad range of topics. Young opened by talking about the preseason. They were joking about how these preseason appearances also allow Young to get into form for the regular season. Young talked about the preseason during his playing days. Bill Walsh apparently had deals with opposing coaches to make sure there was not blitzing, or stuff like that in certain games. However, someone inevitably would blitz, and Coach Walsh would get fired up, and it would basically turn into mayhem.
The best part of the interview might have been the gambling discussion that followed. Tolbert mentioned how back when the 49ers had Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Steve Bono, the team was always good to cover the spread. That got Young talking about his childhood friends on the East Coast, some of whom got into gambling, and how they would complain to him about games being fixed. Young even dropped in a "mean streets of Greenwich, CT" line. It was great.
Later in the show, Young went into some detail about his admiration for Frank Gore. He said Gore was the most underrated player he has ever known. Everyone knows Gore is a really good running back, but Young felt like most people did not truly appreciate what he did in all facets of the game. He is not a game breaker who will break off huge 80-yard runs, but he will get that 3rd and 4 conversion thanks to his patience and vision. I don't think there is another current running back with the vision and patience of Gore. I have to think that developed in part because his multiple knee injuries likely cost him any big speed he might have had.
Young viewed Gore as the pivotal issue. Would he hit the wall, and if so, could Colin Kaepernick take on the added responsibility that might come with that. I think Carlos Hyde is an important part of that discussion, but I think as Young sees more of him, maybe we hear more about Hyde in these discussions.
Young talked about Justin Smith as one of the pivotal issues on the defensive side of the ball. He did not go into much detail, but he said Smith was the secret guy that makes everything happen on defense. He played with a bum shoulder last year, so if he is healthy this year, it could help compensate for the loss of NaVorro Bowman.
The show got into all sorts of random topics after that. Young talked about the Drew Brees interview where Brees thought he could play until he was 40. That led to some discussion about when Young started to feel the bruises a bit more as he got older. He said that in reality, what he really noticed as he got older was how stupid a lot of the pre-game speeches really were.
When you get to 36 or 37, you decide the coaches speeches are stupid. You feel foolish about some of the things that keep motivating people. I know Peyton Manning has to be feeling this way. You love the game, but all the stuff around it, "I'm a little old for this."
After that, Young talked about his golf game up at Lake Tahoe, and how his poor performances might be "affecting his brand". He was joking about it, but apparently he's buddies with retired baseball player Kevin Millar, and Millar made some reference to their brand and his poor golfing. It's worth a listen.