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Memories From the Glory Years: Steve Young’s 1994 Tirade

Andre Tameta
Sep 9, 2009 at 6:11 PM

On Oct. 2, 1994, Steve Young finally lost it as evidenced by the profanities and obscenities he hurled towards head coach George Seifert in an angry fit.

Things weren't going to well for Young in San Francisco since taking over as the 49ers' starting quarterback in 1991 when Joe Montana was sidelined with elbow injuries for almost two seasons. Young waited since 1987 for this opportunity.

As a result, the veteran Montana was dealt to the Kansas City Chiefs in April 1993.

Despite winning two NFC West titles, three passing titles and an NFL MVP award, Bay Area fans made it clear to the media and the organization that Joe Montana was still their favorite son due to the Dallas Cowboys defeating the San Francisco 49ers in two consecutive NFC Championship games.

Many blamed Young for not performing under pressure, but a porous defense in the 1992 and 1993 seasons was the primary reason why Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Alvin Harper and Michael Irvin ran wild all over San Francisco.

Harper even goaded cornerback Larry Brown into saying he "owns" Jerry Rice on NFL Films after the Cowboys' 38-21 victory over the 49ers in the 1994 NFC Championship.

During the offseason, San Francisco decided to equip its team with the necessary personnel to defeat "America's Team."

As a result, owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. opened up the checkbook even more and signed veteran center Bart Oates, standout defensive end Richard Dent, talented outside linebacker/defensive end Rickey Jackson, Cal product Gary Plummer, defensive lineman Charles Mann, outside linebacker/defensive end Tim Harris, defensive back Toi Cook, former Dallas Cowboys' linebacker Ken Norton Jr. and the crowing jewel, cornerback "Prime Time" Deion Sanders.

The 49ers even struck gold in the draft selecting defensive tackle Bryant Young, fullback William Floyd, linebacker Lee Woodall and kicker Doug Brien—all starters on the 1994 team.

The San Francisco 49ers started to resemble a pro football Dream Team rather than an NFL squad.

On opening day, San Francisco made a dominating statement with a 44-14 rout of the Los Angeles Raiders on Monday Night Football highlighted by Jerry Rice breaking Jim Brown's long standing record of 126 touchdowns but the high emotion of the victory would be overshadowed by anticipation for the following week.

The 49ers would be traveling to face Kansas City, the very place they sent four-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Montana to a season earlier.

With four of five starters on the San Francisco offensive line injured, the Kansas City defense battered Young and the 49ers as Joe Montana led the Chiefs to a 24-17 victory.

Steve Young was once again eclipsed by the ghost of 49er legend Joe Montana.

Although the 49ers would win their next two games, Steve Young was sacked 12 times as the offensive line woes continued culminating with Philadelphia putting up a 23-0 first half lead on the 49ers at Candlestick Park in week five.

With 4:09 remaining in the third quarter and the score 33-8, Seifert haphazardly lifted Young for backup Elvis Grbac in the middle of an offensive series after he was hit for a third successive time.

The left-handed signal caller immediately felt he was being made the scapegoat for the 49ers' debacle by Seifert and the San Francisco fans that jeered him loudly off the field.

In an absolute rage, Steve Young began looking for a fight and he wanted to have it with head coach George Seifert.

Seifert kept his cool and didn't looked back at the furious Young.

"I've never seen him like this before," FOX broadcaster John Madden exclaimed during the live telecast about the usually docile Young.

The final score was an embarrassing 40-8.

"It was obvious to me that I should take him out of the ball game," Seifert said at the coach's post game conference. "If I didn't handle it to everybody's liking, it's because I don't have a lot of experience in this kind of situation and I sure hope to hell I don't gain any."

Young's tirade would continue on local post game coverage.

"You don't want to hear rational explanations," Young stated on The Point After. "I would much rather beat myself to a pulp trying to get back into that game than say let's go to next week."

The loss hurt, but suddenly the rest of the team was ready to follow quarterback Steve Young as their leader.

"It kind of galvanized the guys behind Steve," former San Francisco tight end Brent Jones said on the 1994 San Francisco 49ers edition of America's Game.

"There were a lot of guys that said hey wait a second, this guy's got some fight to him. I like that guy. I want a guy that's not afraid to tell George Seifert to jump in the lake."

The following week in Detroit, the 49ers played flat again as Barry Sanders and the Detroit Lions quickly ran up a 14-0 score in the first half.

In another memorable scene of the 1994 season, Young took a five step drop and was unable to find a receiver so he stepped up into the pocket, threw the ball to a check down receiver and was driven into the ground by three Detroit Lions. Anguish immediately came over the quarterback's face.

He slowly crawled off the field, refusing any help from the trainers.

Young had a pinched nerve in his leg.

Somehow, he returned to the field a play after and started executing offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan's offense to perfection. Two touchdowns by rookie William Floyd in the third quarter put the 49ers ahead as San Francisco defeated Detroit 27-21 in a tough contest.

Over the next couple weeks, the San Francisco 49ers won three straight games scoring an average of 40 points a game.

But in Week 11, the 8-1 Super Bowl champion Cowboys were next for Steve Young and the 7-2 49ers.

After Dallas went up 7-0 on an Emmitt Smith touchdown, Steve Young set the pace of the 49ers' offense by scoring San Francisco's first touchdown on a quarterback keeper.

The 49ers would score 14 more unanswered points on a 57-yard touchdown strike to Jerry Rice and a 13-yard bootleg pass to Brent Jones, ultimately winning 21-14.

Troy Aikman at the time had not thrown an interception in 97 attempts, but the revamped secondary led by free safety Merton Hanks picked off the Dallas quarterback three times.

After finally beating the Dallas Cowboys, the San Francisco 49ers would win the next five games by a margin of at least 20 points. The final tally was 10 straight victories and best record in the NFL at 13-3.

At the end of the season, Young threw for 3,969 yards, 35 touchdown passes and a quarterback rating of 112.8, overtaking Joe Montana as the new record holder for highest rating in a season (since broken by Peyton Manning). He was also named the NFL's Most Valuable Player for 1994.

After quickly dispatching the Chicago Bears 44-15 in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, a rematch with the angry Dallas Cowboys awaited.

In what many dubbed as the "real" Super Bowl, the 49ers and Cowboys would face each other for a third straight year in the NFC Title game on a rain soaked Candlestick Park field.

On Jan. 15, 1995, everything that Steve Young and the San Francisco 49ers worked for all season long had come down to this epic contest with the Dallas Cowboys.

Then on Dallas' first drive, cornerback Eric Davis made the 49ers' own statement that they weren't going to take it anymore from the arrogant Cowboys as he jumped in front of a pass intended for No. 85 Kevin Williams and scampered in for a quick touchdown.

Dallas would commit a total of three turnovers in a span of seven minutes as San Francisco built up a lightning fast 21-0 lead in the first quarter on a 29-yard touchdown catch by running back Ricky Watters and a 1-yard rush by Floyd.

Everyone saw a team that was so prepared and focused to attack the Super Bowl champions into submission.

Dallas did have the will and character of a champion by striking back when Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin scored touchdowns, decreasing the deficit to 10 points.

With the score 24-14 and eight seconds left in the half, Young took a chance on a streaking Jerry Rice in single coverage against Larry Brown and burned him for a 28-yard touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone as Dallas safety James Washington looked on helplessly, increasing the lead to 31-14.

Steve Young would score the final touchdown of the game on a three-yard rush, finally leading the San Francisco 49ers to a 38-28 victory over the hated Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship.

With all his might, Young spiked the football into the ground with his golden left arm.

"It was like putting a flag on the top of (Mount) Everest," Young said on America's Game. "Dallas had gone down and get out of my way!"

In a moment of sheer joy, Young jumped over a guardrail and punched his fist in the air as he ran his victory lap around Candlestick Park like a love struck teenager at a pop concert while the very fans that booed him during the Eagles' loss officially embraced him as the face of the franchise.

But Steve Young still had to win the Super Bowl.

A week before the Super Bowl, the AFC Champions declared themselves a "Cinderella" story and a team of destiny to win it all.

Steve Young would have none of that.

On Jan. 29, 1995 at Super Bowl XXIX, the San Francisco 49ers faced off with the San Diego Chargers who compiled a 11-5 record during the regular season.

After a three and out by the Chargers' offensive unit, the 49ers attempted a knockout punch early in the fight.

Only 1:24 into the game, Steve Young tossed a 44-yard bomb to Jerry Rice as the wide receiver split the San Diego defensive backs right down the middle of the field, the fastest touchdown in Super Bowl history.

A possession later, San Francisco went for the knockout strike again.

Young saw the versatile Ricky Watters in the exposed middle part of the field and threw an absolute strike that the running back caught in stride as two defenders bounced off him leading to a 51-yard touchdown, increasing the San Francisco lead 14-0.

It was now the fastest two touchdowns in the history of the Super Bowl.

The surgical 49er offense simply annihilated the Chargers' defense in an absolute no-contest. 49-26 was the final score of Super Bowl XXIX.

"They ran into a buzzsaw that day," Merton Hanks said on America's Game. "The buzzsaw being a Mike Shanahan led offense. Those quick scores really set the table."

When the smoke cleared, Steve Young threw for 331 yards and a Super Bowl record six touchdown passes breaking the previous mark of five by Joe Montana in Super Bowl XXIV against the Denver Broncos five years earlier.

Finally, Steve Young was vindicated as he was selected Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XXIX.

"Every guy in here made a commitment," Young exclaimed in jubilation as Eddie DeBartolo handed him the Lombardi Trophy during ABC's post Super Bowl coverage.

"There were times when it was dark, it was really dark, but we turned back and we were in each others faces and committed to each other. We knew we had to do it this way. This is the greatest feeling in the world, is it not? 39 days. I share this with everyone of you guys," he continued while raising the trophy in absolute victory.

"Everyone in this room made a commitment and we're there, and nobody can ever, ever, take it away from us, EVER!"

In one of the most touching moments in San Francisco 49er history, Steve Young embraced the silver trophy as tight as he could and simply smiled.

"Oh he can't win the big game, he can't win the championship, oh he can't lead a team in two minutes," Young continued on in America's Game. "It's like the nature of the game, the cynics win the day most of the time."

"So you end up responding to it because it's the nature of who you are as an athlete. You say I can't do it, I'm going to prove you wrong and I'm going to use that as incentive to actually go out and achieve something."
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Eric K Soraya
    Guy grew up in KC but loved the niners since the 80's followed the team very close. Jimmy Raye is not good, I remember when he had Garbac, Anderson, and Kimble Andres when he was in OC KC, DONT' LET the BS stats fool you MM from the Sac Bee keeps putting those stats ,up showing how he did with lessor talant during his time in KC. I saw that team very boring and it was 3 yards and cloud of dust lots of runs.Tony G was ok that season but nothing, nothing could brace all those Chiefs fans when Raye would just run and run, the fans wanted him gone and Carol Peterson or Marty ended up letting him go do to the outrage, remeber KC did have a good defense. I hope Raye will be gone by years end, why not Sam Wyche and OC would have been an upgrade over Raye. This won't cut with the 49ers plus the team is weak on the edges so if either of the cards big backs get out side lookout the middle is a lot better. Plus has this team imporved? Some but no Haley type rusher, but I love the team alway did even during the DE years thanks for Spencer DE YOU GOT ONE RIG I am just letting other fans know what I remember about the OC give me Jimmy Walker, Jimmy Dean, hell I take Jimmy Bean over Jimmy Raye
    Sep 10, 2009 at 4:41 PM
  • Ninersush
    Wow its 1230 am where I'm reading this and I'm soooo pumped up I can't sleep now. Ur description of the dallas game and superbowl was exactly how I remember those moments. As if they were on like a day ago. Great post man.
    Sep 9, 2009 at 10:34 PM

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