Steve Young was having trouble with his arm, so he decided to used his legs.
Young, unable to find an open receiver, ran 49 yards for a touchdown with 1:58 left Sunday to give the San Francisco 49ers a 24-21 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
“It was only 3rd and short, so I thought I’d try it,” said Young, who was playing in place of injured Joe Montana.
He raced up the middle and twisted his way through the secondary, stumbling the final few yards to conclude what Coach Bill Walsh called “an unbelievable athletic feat . . . a tremendous effort.”
Young said: “I couldn’t believe I was having trouble getting into the end zone. It was embarrassing. I thought I was going to go down at the 3. I was glad to get over the goal-line. I guess I’ve been watching (teammate) Roger Craig too much.”
San Francisco (6-3) pulled to within a game of New Orleans and the Rams in the NFC West. Minnesota (5-4) remained 2 games behind Chicago in the NFC Central.
Young completed 14 of 25 passes for 232 yards, but he overthrew receivers on several occasions and was sacked 4 times by Minnesota’s aggressive front four. He also was the 49ers’ leading rusher with 72 yards in 7 carries.
“Sometimes you get mad at yourself,” said Young, who heard boos from the Candlestick Park crowd several times when drives stalled. “It can be very frustrating.”
The run climaxed a 4-play, 67-yard drive that allowed San Francisco to overcome 2 Minnesota rallies from 2nd-half deficits.
The Vikings were impressed.
“Did you see him dive in the end zone?” defensive end Al Baker said. “You’ve got to respect that. That guy wanted to score.
“I say, ‘Great game, Steve Young,’ ” Baker said. “Who cares how many passes you completed?”
Said Viking Coach Jerry Burns: “I thought we had (Young) sacked. It was a great individual effort. We missed him a fraction here, a fraction there, and he goes for a touchdown.
“We can’t afford to lose any games now.”
Rick Fenney ran 12 yards for a touchdown to give the Vikings a 21-17 lead with 13:33 left. The touchdown came 2 plays after Baker stripped Craig of the ball and Joey Browner recovered for Minnesota at the San Francisco 21.
Viking quarterback Wade Wilson ran 2 yards for a touchdown and found Anthony Carter on a 67-yard pass play for another.
Craig scored San Francisco’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run that capped a 97-yard march in the 3rd period. The 49ers also scored on their next play, a 73-yard pass play from Young to John Taylor that gave them a 17-14 lead.
Minnesota took advantage of a fumble and penalty to score the only touchdown of a defense-dominated 1st half on a 2-yard run by Wilson.
San Francisco’s Mike Cofer kicked a 30-yard field goal with 31 seconds left in the half to make it 7-3.
Wilson was 18 for 30 for 243 yards and 2 interceptions.