ESPN Analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young Previews Super Bowl XLVII


ESPN Analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young Previews Super Bowl XLVII

Below are transcribed comments from ESPN NFL analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young, the last quarterback to lead the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl. 

Young will be part of ESPN’s special four-hour Super Bowl XLVII edition of Sunday NFL Countdown live from New Orleans this weekend (10 a.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 3). The program will include Young’s one-on-one interview with current 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick among other features and segments.

On the Baltimore Ravens…

Young: For the Ravens, they are playing their best at the end. That’s what the past 10 years have told us about Super Bowl champions. The guys that go from the Wild Card round and do it as they get hot, and this team is hot. Offensively, they are putting up big points and defensively they seem to be getting better and better. You have to change your perspective on the Ravens. You build a perspective over years and then the whole season, and then all of a sudden you get here and you’ve got to look at the last couple of weeks. That’s the team that’s showing up here today. That’s a better team. That’s a team that can threaten and go do things.

On the San Francisco 49ers…

Young: The 49ers are a team I saw coming a year ago. They’re the best offensive line in football. They have the best linebackers in football, one of the best tight ends, one of the best backs, the best defensive line in football. They are a workmanlike team because of their head coach so people don’t know a whole lot about them. Because they are on the West Coast, that keeps people from knowing about them real well. This is a dominant football team. They’re young and I don’t think they realize how good they really are, but they are starting to feel that. I think Colin Kaepernick has given them a more explosive nature that they didn’t have before. That makes them even more dangerous. I think this is a team that comes off the bus and is better than everybody else. As they realize that, they will be tougher to beat, even when they go down 17-0. Settle in, go out and make it happen. In my mind, this week at the Super Bowl, this is a team that is very difficult to beat.

On the keys to victory for the Ravens…

Young: The matchup for me is: can the Ravens storm the castle and then again and again and again. You do it two or three times, it’s not enough. You saw that against the Falcons. If they can – and keep up a concerted effort over a long period of time and take advantage of some uncharacteristic mistakes that the 49ers make, then I think the Ravens can take this championship. If Anquan Boldin is contemplated as the MVP of the game, that means the Ravens have done what they wanted. If Ray Rice is the possible MVP of the game, you’re on your way. Short of that to me, the 49ers are, at this point, a very difficult team to beat.

On the contrasting styles of offenses for the Ravens and 49ers…

Young: Well, the pistol is a wrinkle from college, and who knew it would be so effective. It’s created an outsized dilemma for the defense, and it’s a pretty simple wrinkle for offense. That’s perfect for offensive football because you want defenses to be all atwitter about something that you can run your whole offense from. So that’s why the storyline for this year’s championship run has been the pistol because defenses as a unit, they look foolish and they are some of the best athletes in the world. This is the year to hit it. It’s appropriate that a team that has really embraced it as a wrinkle is in the Super Bowl – with a young quarterback that has played 10 games.

That tells you that this is a tremendous bridge to make up for the complex nature of quarterbacking traditionally, that’s so complex that only three or four guys can do it expertly. So now you’re getting rookies like RGIII, Russell Wilson and a young player like Colin Kaepernick making runs at the Super Bowl this year, which is new. Yes, they are talented but they also have the bridge to get there: this pistol wrinkle. I think in the long run, maybe defenses never completely answer it but it can never be the full measure of what quarterbacks need to do in the league because over 10-15 years you’re going to run the ball five, 10 times out of the huddle. Just look what RGIII did in one year. Sooner or later you get straightened up to the fact that to deliver championship football, it’s from the pocket. I might be proven wrong but I think we have a special gap in time. There’s something unique happening, and I think it will close. Will it completely close? No. And I think that young, mobile quarterbacks will be more valuable now rather than in the past and maybe becomes the prototype, I would only dream. This is the year for this to happen and you are seeing players take advantage of it.

On Colin Kaepernick…

Young: He’s unflappable. He has not been physically challenged. His team is so good he hasn’t, but he’s been emotionally challenged and he answered every call. You can’t tell me there’s something out there that Colin can’t handle – not that I’ve seen. There’s things that still haven’t happened, but he’s been unflappable. That in his pocket already will help him not only in the Super Bowl but in the future. When you get in the league and you do these things — and make it look easy – it won’t be that easy all the time but you know ‘I’ve done this before’. That confidence is half the battle to being a great player.

On Ray Lewis playing the final game of his Hall of Fame career…

Young: One of the great players, no question about it. His impact for the franchise — he’s been the face of this franchise and they’ve been excellent for a long time. This was a team that was in the playoffs or near the playoffs all the time, really off of his leadership and his play. He’s just an impactful person to a whole organization. There aren’t many guys like that. There are a lot of great players, but they don’t necessarily pull the whole organization single-handedly up like he’s done. The impact of Ray Lewis can’t be understated or underestimated.

On his own personal memories of playing in the Super Bowl…

Young: Right before the game in Super Bowl XXIX, Mike Shanahan and I had gone through the game plan four thousand times. About the 4,001 time he turned to me and said ‘you are going to light it up’. And then at halftime he said ‘I want eight touchdowns’. Those are great memories. He only got six but he wanted eight. That’s the kind of guy I was playing for. Just that moment when the game was in hand, and I came out of the game, there was a sense of relief. I’m sure that’s different for a lot of players but for me – for the expectations I put on myself – I was relieved that we had done it together.  

On the 49ers’ resurgence…

Young: Everything that we’d built up over 20 years kind of disappeared, and I was really dejected about that. Towns like Pittsburgh and Green Bay, they have a history and they use it all the time. I was forlorn that that had been lost in San Francisco. Because of that, I think I’m doubly ecstatic it’s back. And it’s back in a way that feels similar. They are putting it back in the bank, all the things that what a 49er is and how we do it. I’m really grateful to the people who have been a part of reestablishing that. It means a lot to me personally.



Bill Hofheimer

I oversee ESPN’s pro football PR, including Monday Night Football and NFL studio shows. Other programs I work on include ESPN soccer, Around the Horn and PTI.