SANTA CLARA -- Steve Young threw 20 touchdown passes in his playoff career, and his final one at Candlestick Park has a special spot in his memory bank.
Young's 25-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Terrell Owens -- "The Catch II" -- lifted the 49ers to a 30-27 win over the Green Bay Packers in a January 1999 wild-card playoff game. It stands as the 49ers' only win in five playoff meetings against the Packers.
Was that pass better than Young's 44-yard, touchdown strike to Jerry Rice on the third snap of the 49ers' 1994 Super Bowl victory over the San Diego Chargers, the first of Young's six touchdown passes?
"The better pass is the T.O. pass," Young answered on a media conference call Wednesday, serving in his modern-day role as an ESPN analyst. "Because against the Packers, let's face it, it's the last play of the game and you've got to go to the end zone.
"You've got to move people around, and they're not going to move around because there's nowhere to go. So to get some kind of movement from LeRoy (Butler, a Packers safety) and get movement from Darren (Sharper, the other safety) that shouldn't be there, (it) is the toughest job.
"To have them believe you're doing something else, after facing each other over and over and over, was one of the great feats.
"The play in general, not just the throw, but getting people to move and making an opening that shouldn't be there, that was a higher degree of difficulty.
"To this day, I'm sure both of them, including Mike Holmgren, (are) saying, 'How in the world did we allow that to happen?'
"This was not a jump ball that T.O. jumped higher than everybody and wrestled to the ground and figured out some way to make a catch. This was tactical, run a play, find an opening and move the football.
"That's why that one was a little bit better of a throw."
After that victory, the 49ers went on to lose to the host Atlanta Falcons 20-18 in the NFC divisional round.
With a win Saturday night over the Packers, the 49ers would advance to the NFC final, which will be held at noon on Jan. 20, and it will be held in Atlanta if the top-seeded Falcons win Sunday against the visiting Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers will host the NFC final if they and the Seahawks advance.
After that "Catch II" pass, Young completed only two more touchdown passes in his career at Candlestick, and both went to Owens in the 1999 home-opening win over the New Orleans Saints.
Young sustained a concussion the following week at Arizona and never played another snap in his career. He earned enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005, his first year of eligibility.
A complete transcript of Young's interview can be found on the 49ers Hot Read blog, at http://blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers/2013/01/09/steve-young-recalls-winning-pass-against-packers-says-its-better-than-his-super-bowl-opener/.