Steve Young saw it all as a quarterback. He was thrust into action in the USFL as well as the start of his NFL career with the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He replaced a 49ers legend in Joe Montana, and carved out his own Hall of Fame résumé in San Francisco.
He also is the perfect person to assess how the 49ers are handling rookie QB Trey Lance. While Young understands having patience with Lance and that this is a long-term play after making such a big trade in the draft, Young also wants to see the No. 3 pick thrown in the fire a bit more.
"My only thing is, from living it, at some level I kind of want to see him under duress," Young said Wednesday on KNBR. "I want to see him in the struggle."
Lance, 21, has played four games this season for the floundering 49ers. He has started one game when Jimmy Garoppolo was injured, and then missed last week's loss to the Indianapolis Colts with a knee injury.
The North Dakota State product has completed just 52.1 percent of his passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns. He also has been intercepted once. On the ground, he has 133 yards rushing with one TD.
Lance is returning from injury, and Young knows his health must come first. But at some point, the 49ers, who are just 2-4 after losing four straight, have to see how Lance handles the pressure.
"I don't want him to break, I don't want him to get hurt ... but I want to know," Young said. "Again, that's just from personal experience. I either sunk or swam."
Following the NFL draft, Kyle Shanahan made it clear Garoppolo would be the 49ers' starter. But by the end of the preseason, and even in the regular-season opener, the two QBs were alternating snaps in the middle of a series.
Now, it seems like Lance's time will come much later. Shanahan made it clear Wednesday to reporters that Lance was drafted for the future, not the immediate present.
“We didn’t draft Trey to just fix this year,” Shanahan said. “We drafted him so he could be the quarterback of the future and that’s a matter of time. We are not playing him just because what our record is, or just because."
No matter who is under center, the 49ers have a lot to fix and not a lot of time to wait.