If you want to know why the San Francisco 49ers are going to win an unprecedented third straight Super Bowl later this month, just reflect on the final regular season victory at Minnesota for a few moments.

With Joe Montana, the greatest quarterback in the history of the game, on the field in the first half, the team looked like a casting party for "Night of The Living Dead II."The 49ers trailed the Vikings at halftime 10-0 and showed no pulse.

Montana's first-half stint was ineffective, but served its purpose. Montana was just 10 of 22 for a paltry 88 yards, but he shook off some rust after a one-week lay-off. And more important, he didn't get hurt before the playoffs.

Enter Steve Young, the best paid, most athletic and most frustrated caddy in the NFL.

Young infused life into the team. He threw a pair of TD passes and rallied the 49ers to a Montana-esque 20-17 victory in the final seconds of the game.

All this really says about the 49ers is they will go to any length to remain on top. If that means stockpiling quarterbacks, that's what they'll do.

The 49ers have a knack for telling employees exactly what they want to hear in order to keep them in the fold. And, coupled with owner Eddie DeBartolo's open checkbook policy, that makes for good business - especially if your business is winning football games.

How else do you explain Steve Young?

It's obvious the competitive embers burn deep in Young's gut. It's obvious the guy's physical gifts are nearly on a par with Randall Cunningham's.

And yet there he is. Game after game. Modeling that nifty 49ers baseball cap and flashing sideline signals to the greatest quarterback of all time as he adds pages to his life story.

True, Young has two Super Bowl rings. But to an athlete of Young's stature, that's not much of a legacy. Young is in the final year of his contract. He said he wants to start for another team.

Talk's cheap, Steve. Listen to Bo. Just do it.

When the season's over and the 49er brass comes knocking, my advice to Young is to close his ears. Take his phone off the hook.

Take a vacation. Just don't listen to the alluring sirens that promise Montana's impending retirement.

Because unless I miss my guess, the 49ers will find away to make Young think his time is near. Even if that means stretching the truth a bit.

It's like the man says: When Americans don't have fuel for their cars or heat in their homes, they don't care how they get the oil, they just want it.

And when Montana goes down, 49er fans will want Young.

If Young still isn't convinced he should leave, maybe he should listen to the advice of ex-teammate Steve Hendrickson, now a member of the San Diego Chargers.

"I think it's time for Steve to get his starting job," Hendrickson said. "I think he's probably one of the most unselfish players in the organization and I don't see him getting any younger." Young is 29. Montana is 34. Both are healthy.

"They could say that Joe Montana just has two years left, but they told him that two years ago," Hendrickson said.

What tends to get lost in all the wins, the rings and the money is that deep down, athletes want to play. They need to play.

And money or not, Young's career, and indeed his life as an athlete, is being wasted on the 49ers sidelines.

It's time the 49ers let Steve Young get on with his life.