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same old young

November 25, 1996

By DAVE GOLDBERG

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Anyone who thinks two concussions in a three-week period are cause for Steve Young to think of retirement should consider this:

In Sunday's 19-16 overtime win over Washington at RFK Stadium, Young completed 20 straight passes, second most in NFL history. More important, he survived a helmet-to-helmet hit with the Redskins' Stanley Richard and a kick in the shin that hurt so much he asked that backup Elvis Grbac start warming up.

``He was Bronko Nagurski out there,'' coach George Seifert said after Young's first start since he was knocked out of the Dallas game two weeks ago with a concussion.

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That's an apt analogy.

Young was a full-service quarterback, passing, taking hits, scrambling, and running late after being tentative early. He ran four times for 25 yards in the victory.

He also was 33-for-41 for 295 yards and directed three key drives - 37 yards in 35 seconds with no timeouts to set up a field goal as time expired in the first half; a game-tying 73-yard drive for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter; and 48 yards to set up Jeff Wilkins' 38-yard overtime field goal.

A typical play was a shovel pass to avoid a sack and gain 5 yards on the overtime drive.

His health?

``I feel great,'' he said afterward. ``As good as I've felt all year.''

But just as important was his attitude, his view of the game that with one breath goes back 60 years to Nagurski and with the other makes a 35-year-old man sound like a 12-year-old boy playing on a muddy field in Connecticut.

``I love football,'' he said. ``Playing under a gray sky in a stadium like RFK, the stands bouncing, the chill in the air. That's what you play football for. I just wanted to have some fun.''

That's also the attitude that makes him indispensible to the 49ers.

The 49ers took the overtime kickoff and moved the ball to the Redskins' 20 in seven plays. The biggest gain was a 25-yard blast between the tackles by Terry Kirby, the first time the 49ers had run the play in the game.

Kirby, who finished with 13 carries for 69 yards and 11 receptions for 74 yards, then ran the next three plays to set up Jeff Wilkins' 38-yard game-winning kick 3:24 into overtime.

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