Russell, 33, knocked off Young in just under 92 minutes with a 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) victory, taking a 2-1 lead in three all-time head-to-head meetings with his fellow American.
The 22-year-old Young forced only four break points, all in the second set, and converted just one of them.
American qualifier Tim Smyczek battled but lost to Luxembourg's Gilles Muller, who needed three sets to wrap up a 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 win.
Other opening-round winners were qualifiers Dimitar Kutrovsky of Bulgaria and Denis Kudla of the U.S. and American Steven Johnson.
The top four seeds -- Gael Monfils, three-time San Jose winner Andy Roddick, reigning titlist Milos Raonic and 2009 champion Radek Stepanek -- all received byes into the second round. Monfils will meet Kutrovsky in the round of 16.
The 2012 SAP Open champion will earn $95,860.