Steve Young will be a San Francisco 49er for at least the next two seasons.
That much was determined Thursday in negotiations between Leigh Steinberg, Young's agent, and team executives Carmen Policy and John McVay. Still to be decided is the dollar amount of Young's new contract."He's going to get a hefty raise," Steinberg said without being specific.
Young's contract, which expired after last season, earned him $2 million over two years. A good guess on the new contract would be $4 million for 1991-92. In any event, Young is expected to make more than all but the elite group of NFL quarterbacks - Joe Montana, Randall Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Warren Moon, Dan Marino, John Elway and Bernie Kosar.
"It will be a package that covers a couple years," Steinberg said. "To paraphrase Tony Bennett, Steve has decided his heart is in San Francisco and he wants to stay. We have not worked all the details out. We're moving toward a formal agreement."
Steinberg said an agreement could be reached this weekend - just in time to lessen, but not obviate, the 49ers' need for a quarterback in Sunday and Monday's draft of college players.
"It was our hope something could be finalized before the draft," said Policy, the 49ers' president. "I do have a certain degree of confidence for three reasons: We've been very fair; I have high regard for Leigh Steinberg and (his partner) Jeff Moorad; and I think Steve Young, being the kind of guy he is, will react positively."
Steinberg said three teams, which he would not identify, expressed serious interest in acquiring Young when he was a conditional free agent. The teams are all believed to be from the AFC West - Raiders, Chargers, Seahawks - as per Young's geographical preference.
But prospective teams would have had to give the 49ers two first-round draft picks as compensation, and the 49ers would have wanted a quality player as well. A steep price indeed.
"There were three teams that really did want him," Steinberg said. "He knew that. But he loves the (49ers) organization, he loves the fans, he loves the players, he loves the system. He's invested these four years and he's going to stay with it.
"Steve's just excited. He's fired up."
There probably has not been a player more anxious for playing time in the history of the NFL. Since coming to the 49ers in a trade with Tampa Bay in 1987, if Young had a dollar for every time he said, "I just want to play," it would probably equal the $40 million deal he had with the Los Angeles Express of the defunct United States Football League.
But, since 1987, Montana has enjoyed his greatest years in leading the 49ers to back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 1988 and 1989. Steinberg called the Montana-Young relationship "synergistic," saying Young's competitive presence made Montana better.
In his four years with the 49ers, Young started 10 games. He completed 193 of 324 passes for 2,678 yards and 23 touchdowns, with six interceptions.
The 49ers have made vague assurances he will receive increased playing time next season, but that depends entirely on Montana's well being. Montana is recovering from a broken right hand suffered in the NFC title game.
Young will be 30 in October, two days before the 49ers play the Falcons in October.