Jim Zorn of the Seattle Seahawks is a most elusive fellow. At age 25 he has managed to remain a bachelor, though he is now the most popular athlete in the Northwest.

Maybe it is because he is a quarterback who drives a yellow 1972 Volkswagen with 96,000 miles on it. Zorn understandably is cautious in light of his humbling introduction to the National Football League.

He was congenitally handicapped at his position, born lefthanded in a world of orthodoxy. You could count in one game Sunday - Seattle versus Oakland - the number of starting quarterbacks in the NFL who are southpaws.

Zorn's ambition took root as a free agent from Cal Poly State (at Pomona), undaunted by the eminence of the Dallas Cowboys. He survived the final cutdown, too, only to be done in by a bit of bad luck.

The Cowboys got into trouble at running back at the same time the Pittsburgh Steelers waived Super Bowl veteran Preston Pearson.

The Cowboys claimed Pearson and waived Zorn the Thursday before the opening of the season. Zorn went to the Los Angeles Rams for a tryout. Turned away again, he faced sitting out the entire 1975 season.

Job might have despaired at Zorn's next challenge. He was one of nine quarterbacks signed by the expansion team at Seattle in January 1976, along with Gary Keithley from the St. Louis Cardinals and Neill Graff from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In their first game, the Seahawks were behind the San Francisco 49ers, 24-0. Early in the third quarter Zorn once more was cast as the man in adversity. On the last play of the game he scrambled to the San Francisco two-yard line before time ran out and Seattle lost, 27-20.

He has been the Seahawk starter since. They lost the image of doves once and for all on Sunday with Zorn coming out ahead of that more glamorous lefthanded leader, Ken Stabler, and the Raiders for the second time this season.

That had not happened to the Raiders during the regular season since 1963, although Denver beat Oakland twice in 1977, once in the AFC championship game.

Zorn was on trial this season because of the NFL syndrome that insists a quarterback should complete at least 50 percent of his passes.

He averaged 41 percent in 1977, but now he is up to 56 percent and proud of taking the Seahawks on drives of 80 and 84 yards against the Raiders and four drives of more than 70 yards in beating the Chicago Bears.

His growth is attributed to the handling of coach Jack Patera, who played with an expansion team, the Cowboys in their first year, when they finished with an 0-11-1 record.

Zorn is said to have matured and discarded the bomb and undisciplined running in favor of patience.

Now, the Seahawks are 7-6, a game behind depending AFC champion Denver and Oakland, and after three years there is a strange cry in Seattle as the playoffs near: "We're in the hunt."