Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Young explains why Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling left him ‘in awe’

Oct 22, 2020 at 5:42 AM--

Steve Young dished out words of praise about San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan's game plan on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers won the game 24-16, but it was the play-calling early in the first quarter that left the Hall of Fame quarterback turned ESPN analyst in awe.

"I was in awe of Kyle through the first quarter," Young said on the Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks show. "Is there anyone better — no one better today — but maybe like all-time that can roll into a game, even a big game, and you know that first drive is something that …"

Young stopped his thought there and went into a story of visiting the 49ers locker room last season during another big game, also against the Rams, and watching Shanahan run his team through the game's first 20 plays.

"He was going through them, and it was very specific," Young explained, "and all the reads felt really simple. Like, it was one-two, one-two, one-two, one-two. And I, as a quarterback, you're like, 'I like this simplicity. This is good. I like this.'"

Young noted, though, that Shanahan never mentioned during the run-through what to do should the defense blitz on any given play. Young remembers it being common to go through those types of scenarios while running through a game plan.

"At the end, I went over to him, and I was like, 'Hey, those are great plays. I love those plays. It's really simple but kind of difficult, cool, kind of unique ways to attack the defense that can cause some problems with the defense, but for you, pretty straight forward.' I said, 'What about blitz? What about all the looks?'

"He said, 'Oh, it's good against everything.' I was like, 'What? It's good to go?!' That's where I changed. I had always sensed that the game had changed, and we were more college-like … That's where I changed because I was like, 'Wait a second. We're going up in a big game, it was a big game against the Rams, and you're telling me in the first 20 plays, those 11 passes you just went through are one-two reads, and there's nothing to worry about in blitz? Sign me up!'"

Young said he saw the same thing on Sunday night. Shanahan's scripted plays to open the game looked "like magic" and left the Rams defense confused. The genius of Shanahan's play designs led Young to compare the 49ers coach to his father, Mike Shanahan, and even the legendary Bill Walsh.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Young below.

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