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49ers

GameDay: The Tebow Trade And Steve Young

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49er Great, Steve Young Gets A Birthday Flash Mob

Steve Young (Photo by Al Messerschmidt / Getty Images)

Dennis-O'Donnell_BIO-HEAD Dennis O'Donnell
Dennis O’Donnell is the Sports Director at KPIX 5. He has receiv...
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CBS 5 Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell hosts “Gameday” every Sunday night at 11:30pm on CBS 5 and offers his unique sports analysis here.

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – New York Jets fans were stunned at the trade that brought Tim Tebow to the Big Apple. What’s the point when you just extended Mark Sanchez? On the surface, they’re right. It’s a quarterback controversy waiting to happen. The whole thing could blow up in the face of Jets management.

Then again, who knows?

By 1987 the San Francisco 49ers were cementing their legacy as the team of the eighties. Joe Montana had already won two Super Bowls and probably could have stamped his ticket to Canton by then.

Then came a move that, at the time, seemed innocent enough. Bill Walsh, in perhaps his greatest deal ever, sent 2nd and 4th round draft picks to Tampa Bay in exchange for Steve Young. Young was known more for the record contract he signed with the USFL’s Los Angeles Express than he was for his NFL accomplishments. As an NFL starter in Tampa, Young was 3-16. In 19 games, he threw 11 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and was, quite frankly, a better runner than a thrower. He was considered a bust by the Bucs, and they considered themselves fortunate to receive two good picks in exchange for a quarterback that never reached his potential. Niner fans will tell you that, early on, his feet in the pocket moved faster than Fred Astaire’s.

Joe Montana never helped Steve Young become a great quarterback. Young’s lessons were learned from watching Montana, not breaking down the nuances of the game. It was an icy relationship from the start, but everyone benefitted from it. Walsh notched another “genius” button on his jacket. Montana, as Walsh later said, was a better player because of the shadow, Young’s game flourished under Walsh’s tutoring, Jerry Rice set records, and the 49ers remained one of the league’s elite teams throughout the nineties.

The point is not to compare Mark Sanchez to Joe Montana, or Steve Young to Tim Tebow. I’m comparing the idea of trading for another quarterback when the present is already in place. Tebow’s role may be exclusively as a running quarterback in certain situations. But don’t discount the potential evolution of a quarterback’s athletic abilities.

Bill Walsh didn’t.

See you on TV.

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