NFL great Steve Young talks football and markets

Susan Li and Jessica Golden
NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young: Search for growing companies
NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young: Search for growing companies

Former 49ers NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Steve Young says Colin Kaepernick will likely not be the 49ers' starting quarterback when NFL season starts this September.

Speaking to CNBC from the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship, the three-time Super Bowl–winning quarterback gave his thoughts on his former team, Deflategate and the markets.

When sizing up the battle for his former team's top spot, Young says he expects Blaine Gabbert to start the season, but doesn't count Colin Kaepernick out just yet.

"Colin's gotta reclaim his position," he says. "A lot of that is the emotional thing with the locker room. I think he lost a lot of guys last year."

The legendary quarterback says Kaepernick needs to come out with an attitude that he made a lot of mistakes but he's going to fix it.

Steve Young
Wesley Hitt | Getty Images

Young's former team was just 5-11 last year. The team hired former Eagles coach Chip Kelly, its third coach in five years, to turn things around.

Young also gave his thoughts on another hot-button issue: Deflategate. Just this week, Tom Brady announced he won't fight his four-game Deflategate suspension any longer.

Young says Deflategate was a complete mess for everyone involved and that when he played in the '90s, they had to play with random, slick footballs.

"We begged for this in the '90s. Please let us go and rub them down and make them the way we want them," he said.

"I think in a big way, everybody lost," he added.

Since his retirement, Young has kept busy. In addition to being a commentator for ESPN, he's also co-founder and managing director of the private equity firm HGGC.

"We're kind of a nonthreatening little brother out there in the middle market," he says.

The fund has $2.4 billion in assets under management and has returns on investments that would rival the top quartile of private equity firms.

With markets at record highs, Young says maybe there's a correction coming but maybe not a huge one, and nothing's cheap. However, Young says the private equity company just bid on a company last week.

"We're not value buyers either," he said. Young says we're seeing such high multiples because investors are so desperate for finding growth.

When it comes to his business career, Young says it's so different from his NFL days, but he's still having fun.

"They're different. Third and 10 down by four at Lambeau Field in the drizzling rain … two minutes left. There's nothing like that."

—By CNBC's Susan Li and Jessica Golden


This report has been updated to reflect that the 49ers were 5-11 in 2015.