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Revisionist History: Aeneas authors Young’s last chapter

Posted by Darren Urban on June 21, 2011 – 4:17 pm

The latest in a series of offseason posts looking back:

It was the hit that changed a little history, at least for the 49ers, and the Cardinals were the ones that delivered it.  There is some irony there, given that the two are rivals now, because back in 1999, they most certainly weren’t.

Still, the concussion-inducing shot absorbed by then-49ers quarterback Steve Young by cornerback Aeneas Williams ended Young’s career, and hasn’t been forgotten.

Back in 1999, the Cards were coming off their magical 1998 playoff appearance. The 49ers were still one of the best teams in the league. San Francisco was due to visit Sun Devil Stadium in a game that was rare on many levels. It was “Monday Night Football,” only the third time the Cards had been on MNF since coming to Arizona (and long before 49er-Cardinal games became practically annual Monday night viewing). Playing the 49ers didn’t happen often. The Cards were still in the NFC East. The 1999 game was only the third time SF would play in Arizona – although the first one remained (and still remains) a classic for Cards fans.

Then came the game. Young had piloted the Niners to a 17-0 when, late in the first half, Young was sandwiched by cornerbacks Williams and J.J. McCleskey coming on blitzes from each side. Williams drilled Young in the chest, and Young’s head banged into a teammate’s knee on his way to the turf. He was down and out, replaced by an unknown named Jeff Garcia, who threw for just 30 yards while the Niners held on to a 24-10 win.

Young was worried about his future, but wanted to keep playing football. Even the following June, Williams talked about how he wanted Young to keep playing. But a few days later, Young finally was forced to admit his career was over, while Williams recounted that night. “I remember it being really quiet, and seeing him laid out on the field,” Williams said. Young never did play again after Williams hit him.

In 2008, the Niners came to play the Cards in Arizona for “Monday Night Football.” Williams was there as alumni captain, and Young was too as part of the ESPN television crew. It made sense to bring up the story, and Young was asked if he would talk about that night at Sun Devil Stadium. He made clear it wasn’t a subject he wanted to re-visit. I’d imagine if the same scenario came up again, in the context of today’s Cardinals-49ers relationship, it’d be an even bigger sore spot.


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6 Responses to “Revisionist History: Aeneas authors Young’s last chapter”

  1. By Richard Moreno on Jun 21, 2011 | Reply

    I remember this game vividly as well as the hit before halftime and the launching of Jeff Garcia career. And then the 49ers topped it off with a long run from Lawrence Phillips as me and my father left our sec. 213 seats.. I can still remember all the excitement of the tailgaters and looking for Maddens bus

  2. By Brad ONeill on Jun 21, 2011 | Reply

    Aeneas Williams is a great guy and was a fantastic cornerback, its a shame that he is associated with the hit that became the end of Steve Youngs career. I remember hm more for his shutdown coverage than devastating hits, to put it in perspective it would be kind of like DRC putting a qb out of a game it just wasnt expected. I think the guy had 3 sacks in his whole career.

  3. By Jon L. on Jun 21, 2011 | Reply

    That was an unfortunate incident that brought a great player’s career to an end.

  4. By CZarr on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    Off topic.. Darren have you read this yet? PFF places our starting OLBs at the bottom of 3-4 linebackers regarding missed tackles. >.<

    http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2011/06/21/tackling-linebackers/

  5. By CZarr on Jun 22, 2011 | Reply

    I just saw the article about pass tackles on FO. That made me feel a lot better!

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