Steve Young knows a thing or two about creative tension on a football team. He also knows when that tension turns toxic.
That’s the Hall of Fame quarterback’s fear with the 49ers right now. Young hopped on KNBR Wednesday afternoon for his weekly chat, and explained that he’s sensing resentment between Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan after last weekend’s dreary 11-10 loss to the Broncos.
“The thing that I’m worried about, Tom, is that we know what happened at the end of the season,” Young began with Tolbert & F.P. “Jimmy says goodbye. What I don’t want is sixth months of victimization. People saying in his circles ‘Hey, Jimmy you’re getting screwed, you’re 34-14, you’re awesome, you’re the king, these guys suck, Kyle sucks, everybody sucks.’ And then a whole six months of waiting to go somewhere else and you’re thinking ‘Yeah, yeah, that’s right, I’m the man,’ instead of ‘Wait a second. Why am I getting fired? Why am I getting pushed outside? What do I need to learn?’
“My worry is that when you feel victimized then you have resentment. And the resentment is palpable. And that’s what we have to be super careful of right here, because there’s creative tension and toxic tension. Creative tension is what Bill Walsh and I had or Joe and I had. Everybody got the best out of each other and they drew from that. But then there’s toxic tension, and that’s when it goes into the ground. When the airplane rams into the ground.
“What we can’t start now in a tough season — if this is going to be a tough one, meaning that every game is going to be at risk and there’s not going to be any easy ones — we need an environment where the coach and quarterback are not full of resentment, they’re not creating more and more toxicity and they can find a place of creative tension.”
In addition to the 49ers looking awful on offense, Young also pointed to a video that surfaced that some believe shows Garoppolo taking a shot at Shanahan’s play calling, as well as Garoppolo’s excuse filled postgame presser as examples of the toxicity he’s seeing.
“That’s what I’m most concerned about is that there’s this resentment,” Young concluded. “Whatever he said at the end of the game, whatever he mouthed, whatever he said after to the media, I sense that’s it’s resentment. And I totally understand it. Completely rational. I’ve been there, I get every part of it. But if we want to find profitability with the teammates and in the games and under pressure and with Kyle and with John, we’ve got to create an environment of creative tension.”
Listen to the full interview below. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Catch Tolbert & Copes weekdays from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. on KNBR 104.5 / 680 and streaming live on KNBR.com.