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Steve Young: Colin Kaepernick must control 49ers' locker room

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NFL Media's Oklahoma Drill series presents exclusive, quick-hitting one-on-one interviews with players and coaches from around the league. No nonsense -- just football experiences directly from the source.

Steve Young

Quarterback, Retired

Born: October 11, 1961

Experience: 15 NFL seasons

Interview by Brooke Cersosimo | Oct. 13, 2016

[I'd play catch right now with] Roger Staubach. He was my hero. His poster was up on my wall growing up, and it was just those years from 8 years old to 16. Those vital years where everything he did or said or every throw he made, it was like when I would go to bed or woke up, I'd run around like I was Roger Staubach. It has a way of affecting your life.

The root of ["QB: My Life Behind the Spiral"] was my son came home from school when he was about 10 years old -- he was born after I retired -- and he said, "Dad, somebody at school told me a story about you and Joe Montana." And it was not right, it was not close. I thought to myself, Holy cow. I don't have a record for him, not a journal. There's nothing to hand my kids. It was really to have something written down in my voice that's for them. That's how it started and that's what it was going to be always. I feel like mission accomplished in that way.

It's now morphed into something I published, I'm like, Oh, jeez. For everyone else, I'm not sure [what I want people to take away from it].

The nicest thing was from Peter King, who writes for [Sports Illustrated/The MMQB]. He's a guy I've known for a long time and respected. He wrote a review and it made me feel that maybe I did the right thing because I wasn't sure. I haven't been sure. And his review was like there's a lot in here that's useful, and that's kind of what I was hoping for. In the three or four days since it came out, that's been the No. 1 thing for me.

My [separation anxiety] stems from my childhood. The first thing is to figure out the genetics [of any mental health issue]. That's what was helpful to me in my mid-30s when I finally learned that this way I'm feeling and what I've been dealing with stems from my mom's family. ... Once I knew the genetics of it, I could understand it and keep going through it and make sure it didn't dictate my life.

Yes, [I met her]. We're friends now. It was kind of a fun story. Now, this was a sophisticated guy and it was tongue-in-cheek, a great moment.

The biggest thing I learned [from the QB controversy in San Francisco] was my perspective of when I was fighting for the job and how I felt about it and Joe, and how we were both handling it. Then when I finally played and I had someone backing me up and trying to take my job, I'm like, Holy cow. It really is the shoes you're standing in. Your perspective better be broader because you want to make sure you handled it the right way. I remember when someone was trying to take my job from behind, I felt totally different than when I was trying to take the job. That was the lesson.

Oh, [a quarterback controversy in Dallas] is coming.

Dallas Cowboys are punching above their weight, and that has not been the case for the Cowboys for a long time. That really isn't about Tony, it's more about the chemistry. This team right now is rallying around Dak, and you have to honor that. It's very possible that Dak could create his place where he stays on the field. That's going to be hard for a rookie, so it's doubtful. But I could see it.

That's what's interesting about Dak and Carson Wentz this season. I've seen that they're doing things that are out of the huddle, deciphering the defense, dropping back, delivering the ball to the right guy. You know, those are things you can do for a long time. Guys that have flashed as rookies, usually rookies do whatever. They run around, make crazy plays and it's very exciting and can be thrilling and you can even win. But you can't make enough plays to do the job long term, so it catches up with you.

These two are doing things you can do for 15 years, as opposed to what RGIII did in 2012. He made a lot of great plays, but he wasn't doing the job and it ended up getting him in the end.

We won the Super Bowl in January of 1995, beat the Chargers. We had the parade the next day, had the meeting where we all went to the facility to say goodbye to everyone. So then there's the next day, the first day of the offseason and everybody is gone. I go down to the training facility, just to check it out -- I was single and didn't have anything else to do and went out of habit, really. There was nobody, just the night watchman, not even a guard. He let me in and I go out and look at the field in the back, and I see a guy on the far side running routes. I'm like, I think that's Jerry Rice. Oh my gosh -- it is! And he was doing this on his own, the day when everybody else in the whole world was gone or celebrating. And there was Jerry Rice running routes alone. To me, anyone who wants to know why Jerry Rice was so good. There you go.

Let me think about that for a second. There's combinations of about four people it would take to compare [a current receiver to Rice]. A little of this, a little of that. But there's no one person where I think, Oh, yeah -- that's Jerry.

The No. 1 [thing Colin Kaepnerick needs to do to rewrite is narrative] is take control of the locker room. Tell them, "You know last year, I blew it. I messed it up. I'm responsible." Even though he knows there are a thousand other things that happened. But in the end, as the quarterback, say, "I'll stand for it and I'm coming back to fix it." If he did that, I think he'd win the locker room back really quickly. He can deal with the scar tissue from last year effectively, and then go out there and play football.

Despite all the things that change year to year, the consistency and that I tried to be excellent. Not that I got there all the time, but that's probably what I'm most proud of.

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