Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young gave Marc Trestman a ringing endorsement for the Bears' head coaching job, saying Trestman can do for the Bears what Jim Harbaugh has done for the 49ers -- taking over a team with a solid defense in place and upgrading the offense to turn it into a Super Bowl contender.
Trestman was the offensive coordinator for Young with the San Francisco 49ers in 1995 and 1996. He has won two CFL championships in three Grey Cup appearances in five years with the Montreal Alouettes. But he never has coached in the NFL.
''The CFL is just a place where he's gotten to show that he's a dynamic leader,'' Young said in an interview on the ''Waddle & Silvy Show'' on WMVP-AM. ''He's a dynamic straight-shooter. He's a soft-spoken guy, but the Bears with their defensive history ... this is going to be a great hire.
[He'll hire a] great defensive coordinator. Keep that tradition up and watch the flowering of a great offense. Look what's happening in San Francisco. That's what the Bears could be. And I think that's what Marc Trestman can bring them.''
The key element no matter whom the Bears hire as their head coach, will be the coach's ability to maximize Jay Cutler, who is 34-22 in four years as the Bears' starting quarterback, but has a pedestrian 81.9 passer rating.
Trestman earned a reputation for molding quarterbacks in 15 seasons as an NFL assistant. Can he work his magic with Cutler, who despite his athletic ability has been a tough nut to crack for NFL coaches.
''There's no question about that,'' Young said. ''That's why I'm so happy they're looking at Marc, for many reasons. Marc's capable of doing much more, but one of the things that he can really do is break down the quarterback and build him back up.
Now the real question is, do you have a willing participant? Because there's a lot of great athletes in the NFL and one of the things that keeps them from I think getting to their full potential is this idea that, 'I'm such a great athlete that I just go out and play. I'm that good.'
''And some of them are that good, but they never reach their full potential unless they go to school. And especially at quarterback. So if you have a willing participant in Jay Cutler and Marc Trestman, you could make some good music.''
That will remain a huge ''if'' no matter who gets the job. Cutler wants to be great. He wants to make the most of his ability. But he has struggled to ''click'' with coordinators in his four seasons in Chicago -- Ron Turner (2009), Mike Martz (2010-11) and Mike Tice (2012). And even with a great relationship with Mike Shanahan and Jeremy Bates in Denver, his best passer rating was 88.1 in 2007.
Young said he thinks Cutler would be ''a willing participant,'' but he couldn't say for sure.
''I gotta believe,'' Young said. ''Once you get with somebody who really understands quarterbacking and it's not a commodity. I don't want to say quarterbacks want to be coddled. I'm saying that the job ... it's like a Japanese garden. It takes a lot of care, a lot of time, intricate work.
''Jay's old enough to see the benefits. He's tested the waters a bunch of times. I've got to believe that if someone came in and kind of in a resonate way, could speak to him -- kind of like when you put your finger around a crystal glass and it starts to sing to you. There's this resonate sound that happens between quarterback and coach -- that he would respond to that. Why wouldn't you respond to that?''
That is one of several $64,000 questions hovering over Halas Hall this offseason. The immediate future of the franchise hinges on the answer. For now, everything comes back to Jay Cutler.