Injured shoulder to keep Young out 4 weeks

The Associated Press

SANTA CLARA, Calif. Exit Steve Young, enter Elvis Grbac.

Young, a four-time passing champion and last season's Super Bowl MVP, saw his streak of 55 straight regular season starts for the San Francisco 49ers come to a halt Monday because of a damaged passing shoulder. He will be sidelined for four weeks, including the Nov. 12 game at Dallas, a rematch of last year's NFC championship, coach George Seifert said.

Grbac, a third-year player out of Michigan, will make his first career start at St. Louis on Sunday, when the 49ers (4-2) play the NFC West-leading Rams (5-1).

Will Grbac be ready?

''The man has no choice. He is ready,'' Seifert said.

Young was sacked a season-high six times in Sunday's 18-17 loss at Indianapolis and left the field in visible pain on several occasions. He underwent an MRI scan afterward, which revealed the damage in his left shoulder. Team physician Dr. Michael Dillingham told Seifert not to expect Young back for at least four weeks.

''Basically we're dealing with a strain and a bruise in his shoulder,'' Seifert said. ''The one thing that we have been told many many times is that it's not something you would operate on or scope and basically rest is the thing that's required.''

It appears under that scenario, the earliest Young could return would be San Francisco's Nov. 20 game at Miami.

''He's our franchise player,'' tackle Steve Wallace said. ''He's like our Emmitt Smith. We need him back there, especially for the bigger games. Of course, we've won some games in the past where Joe Montana was hurt and Steve Young had to step up. So Elvis will have to do that now.''

Young, who was 28-for-40 for 229 yards against the Colts, had been bothered by soreness in his left shoulder since the second game of the season, when Atlanta's Jessie Tuggle knocked him down an instant after he threw a pass.

He continued to play but during San Francisco's bye week did not throw at all in hopes the rest would allow his shoulder injury to heal. Young resumed throwing a week ago, and Seifert said Young's passing in practice last Thursday and Friday was among the best he's seen him throw this year.

''Steve Young suffered a shoulder bruise approximately four weeks ago from which he had virtually completely recovered,'' Dillingham said in a statement. ''In (Sunday's) game, Steve suffered two separate and distinct injuries to his left shoulder. Early in the game, he suffered a mild sprain to his shoulder. Toward the end of the game he suffered a second injury to his shoulder which was a bruise deep into his shoulder.''

Young was knocked down by rookie Ellis Johnson while completing a pass for no gain with 1:05 to play and was obviously staggered by the hit, his passing arm hanging limp at his side.

He gave way to Grbac for one play and returned seconds later. He completed one more pass, but a 46-yard field goal attempt by Doug Brien was wide right with 50 seconds to go.

Seifert said he had considered pulling Young out earlier because of the punishment he was taking but was told by doctors Young could still go. He also said Young told him he wanted to keep playing.

''You're given information during the course of a game,'' Seifert said. ''Do you regret that he's not playing? You bet I do. But given the situation and information I had it was the thing to do from the standpoint it was not further injuring him.

''Though maybe he wasn't as effective throwing the ball as he had in the past, his effectiveness at a lesser degree is better than anything else we might have. We wanted to win the ball game and that was our best shot to win the ball game. And Steve was champing at the bit but I will say the decision when Steve will play again will be strictly a medical decision.''

On the same day they lost their starting quarterback, the 49ers fired Brien, who had missed his second game-deciding kick in a month. He missed a game-tying 40-yard field goal in the final seconds of a 27-24 loss at Detroit and had made just two of six kicks from beyond 40 yards.

The 49ers had no immediate replacement for Brien, who was waived. Punter Tommy Thompson kicked a field goal during a preseason game when Brien was out with a groin strain.

Young first hurt his shoulder when the Colts' Ray Buchanan blitzed and struck his arm as he attempted a pass in the second quarter. Grbac warmed up after that injury, but Young said he decided he could keep playing when the 49ers regained possession.

Cary Conklin, a free agent who used to play for Washington, is the 49ers' No. 3 quarterback.

Read Next Article