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YOUNG GETS A DEAL WORTHY OF MVP

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Steve Young's holdout was over before it started. His agent and the San Francisco 49ers reached agreement late Wednesday on a five-year contract worth $26.5 million, making last year's leading passer and MVP the NFL's highest-paid player.

"The 49ers stepped up to the plate and gave him a contract that rewards his MVP status," said Young's agent, Leigh Steinberg.The two sides reached accord after a lengthy negotiating session between Steinberg and club president Carmen Policy. The talks were held at the club's headquarters in Santa Clara.

"Leigh and I just finished 91/2 hours of negotiations during which the 49ers paid for lunch and much more, I might add," Policy said during a joint telephone conference call with Steinberg.

Young was scheduled to arrive at the 49ers' training camp today to sign the deal, which will pay him an average of $5.3 million a year. That surpasses the average $4.8 million annual compensation of Denver's John Elway, according to Steinberg.

However, Young probably won't take part in the team's opening practice sessions today, coach George Seifert said.

Young, the undisputed starter since Joe Montana's April trade to Kansas City, earned $2.5 million last season. He led the 49ers to a league-best 14-2 record and a playoff win over Washington before Super Bowl champion Dallas defeated San Francisco 30-20 in the NFC championship.

He spent four years as an understudy to Montana before assuming the starter's role two years ago, while Montana battled elbow problems that sidelined him for all but one game in 1991 and 1992.

Steinberg said Young, who had never missed a day of training camp due to contract problems, made it clear to him to do whatever it took to get the contract resolved so he could report to camp on time.

"He is so gung-ho, so fired up about football that he is emotionally unsuited to miss training camp," Steinberg said. "The thought that they were going to be playing and he wasn't there was too much for him to handle. I mean, after waiting all those years, it's now the dawning of a new era and he is so excited that we simply locked ourselves into Carmen Policy's office. There was just no question we weren't leaving under any circumstances, nor was Carmen, until we got it done."

Meanwhile, Seifert said the club has reached an agreement in principle with defensive lineman Dana Stubblefield of Kansas, the first of two first-round draft picks. The other, defensive end-linebacker Todd Kelly of Tennessee, is the only unsigned player among the 49ers' seven draft choices.

Seifert said he expects Stubblefield to be in camp by Friday. No details were immediately available on the length or value of Stubblefield's pact.

Rocky Arceneaux, the agent for Kelly, said he and the 49ers were also nearing agreement.