One quarterback wants to play forever. The other has been waiting seemingly that long. The more things change for the San Francisco 49ers, the more they remain the same.
Joe Montana's broken right hand is healing nicely and he's on schedule for his 13th season. Steve Young's new contract is a nice one and he's on schedule for his fifth season as quarterback-in-waiting."Joe's the starting quarterback," coach George Seifert said yet again. "He threw well. I was surprised. He was throwing deep comeback routes. I was surprised, (him) coming off the injury. I didn't expect to see that."
Young has a new two-year contract that will pay him $2 million in 1991 and $2.5 million in '92. His agent, Leigh Steinberg, received strong trade offers from the Los Angeles Raiders, San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks, but Young opted to remain a 49er.
"I want to see my investment through," Young said of his on-going apprenticeship. "I'm determined to make this work. This probably is a little bit of a risk, but I rolled the dice on this one."
Montana, who will be 35 next month, has three years remaining on a contract that will pay him $14 million. Young will be 30 in October. His contract is the result of resolute faith by the player and keen need by the team. If the 49ers had beaten the Giants in the NFC championship game, Young would have started Super Bowl XXV.
"We need both quarterbacks, I believe, to maintain our winning abilities," Seifert said. "Obviously Joe's our starter, but Steve's come in and helped us win games and enabled us to get into championship and playoff games. There's a time when we can foresee Steve being the quarterback down the line, our starting quarterback. I have some idea (when), but I'm not in position to prognosticate."
Montana's right hand, broken in the NFC title game Jan. 20, has a two-inch scar from the base of his little finger and there is puffiness from calcium deposits.
"I'd say it's pretty close to 100 percent, maybe 95, 98," Montana said. "It's not too bad. I can squeeze. It's almost the same as my left. It's a little stiff in the mornings. But it's actually not my hand. It's more these tendons. They need to be warmed up."
Montana has completed therapy and has no worries about his passing hand as training camp nears. He's been lifting weights and working with surgical tubing (similar to arm wrestlers) to strengthen his arm.
"I think if the doctors had any concern about it, they wouldn't have taken the screws out," Montana said. "When they looked at the X-rays, it had been healing faster than they thought. Every week that goes by it's less and less sore."
Montana is primarily a spectator at the 49ers minicamp, watching as Young, Steve Bono and Ralph Martini take the snaps. Montana is scheduled to throw the first week of June.
In four years with the 49ers, Young has started 11 games. It is the tantalizing desire to be the starting quarterback that keeps him here when he could have moved on.
"It's going to happen," Young said. "I really believe in my mind that I can start and play great, great football. It's going to be six or seven years, legitimately, where there's going to be no fall-off (from Montana). I really believe that."
Said Montana, "My day's coming."