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Young hopes his new role comes with a catch

After years of trying to beat out the best quarterback in history, Steve Young has a new plan. Now, he's going after Jerry Rice.

Steve Young, wide receiver, made his debut for the 49ers on Sunday afternoon. Trotting onto the field, he looked very much like Steve Young, backup quarterback, except that this time he was not catching instead of not throwing.

The 49ers, struggling with injuries at wide receiver, used Young as an extra receiver for several plays Sunday in their 20-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

"I think it's a compliment," Young said. "I guess they figure I'm a decent athlete."

This way, at least, Young gets to play. Last week, Young's agent (Leigh Steinberg) once again talked of his client asking for a trade. Young, the ex-Buc, finds himself in an unusual position: Does he stay satisfied with being on a great team and winning, or does he want to go somewhere else to play?

In the meantime, he's running down and outs not that Montana seems to notice. Every time Young lined up, Montana went to the opposite side of the field.

"I told him I was open," Young said, smiling. "Aren't receivers always open?"

Did Montana consider throwing to him?

"No way.".

Time to retire: Steve Grogan has had a nice career for the New England Patriots, but isn't it time he gave it up? One doctor already has advised Grogan that he shouldn't play anymore, and it's reached the point where defensive players are trying to take it easy on him.

Said Buffalo defensive end Leon Seales: "Everybody said, "I just hope I'm not the one to go in and hit him and have him stay down. If I ever get a sack, I hope he gets back up.'

"

Bruce Smith, the other end, agreed: "It's like the pitcher who gave up Hank Aaron's 715th home run. You don't want to be the one to do something like that (injure Grogan)."

Hit by pitch: 49ers tackle Bubba Paris took one for the team Sunday. San Francisco was driving for its second touchdown when Tom Rathman fumbled. The ball was blown dead, but the Browns' Tony Blaylock scooped it up and started to run. So Paris tackled him _ "a great form tackle," said Paris _ and Blaylock threw the ball in his face.

Tweet. Fifteen-yard penalty against Blaylock.

"It gained 15 yards," Paris said. "It was the best play I've ever made."

Proving ground: Not to disagree with coach Mike Ditka, who says his Bears aren't in the same class as the 49ers and Giants, but Chicago defensive end Trace Armstrong disagrees with his coach.

"Everybody is saying the NFL is the 49ers, the Giants and all the rest," said Armstrong, who joins the Bears in Tampa on Sunday. "We're out to prove we're not part of all the rest."

Buyin' time: When the going gets good, the good go shopping. At least, Deion Sanders does, which is why he headed to the mall following his 71-yard punt return against Cincinnati on Sunday.

Last season, Sanders bought the entire special teams Gucci watches following a 68-yard punt return. This year, he says it will be gold chains, leather outfits or $100 cash per player.

"It was time," Sanders said. "In fact, it was overdue."

Tuneup needed: Here's why the going is so slow for the Cleveland Browns. The team's engine is too small. Said defensive back Frank Minnifield after Sunday's game: "We're just not firing on all four cylinders."

Two-hand touch: The NFL's silliest rule, the in-the-grasp-sort-of rule, occurred again in Phoenix on Sunday when Timm Rosenbach was called down when the Bears' Trace Armstrong had a slight hold on him.

Others grumbled loudly, saying the rule should be thrown out. But Rosenbach knows the rule is there to keep him healthy.

"You can throw out the rule for the next five years," he said. "But after that, I won't be able to move as well, so it would be nice to have the rule back then."

A no-show: Indianapolis coach Ron Meyer isn't exactly looking forward to this week's game against the New York Giants. "What's frightening is this is a team that dismantled Miami like Miami dismantled us. I guess if you put any validity in comparative scores, I guess we shouldn't show up."

Imperfect 10: Out of 63 of Minnesota's offensive plays, Herschel Walker was on the field for only 10 on Sunday.

"Criticism is a part of life, and they say that criticism sometimes builds character," Walker said. "No doubt, my character has been built a little more each day."

Parting shot: Atlanta's Jerry Glanville on the Cincinnati Bengals: "I guess somebody's done an awful good job of acquiring talent for that team, but I don't know who that person could be."

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