One of the most interesting quarterback situations in NFL history is unfolding in San Francisco. It’s a good problem to have, but an annoying problem nonetheless. Winning a Super Bowl is next to impossible without a solid quarterback. If there’s one team in the NFL currently designed to win a future championship without a possible Hall of Famer behind center, it’s the 49ers. Yet, the team could make a great case for three or four options as to who its starting quarterback will be next season. And franchise Godsend Joe Montana has his opinion between Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo, Brock Purdy, and an unknown free-agent quarterback. And his multiple-choice answer is the right one.
Regardless of Brock Purdy’s torn UCL, Montana believes Garoppolo should be starting Week 1 for the 49ers next season, and it’s safe to say the 4-time Super Bowl champion knows a thing or two about winning in the NFL. The 3-time Super Bowl MVP’s logic is easy to understand and comes with a well-timed jab at Steve Young. Garoppolo has the most overall success behind him. Lance is far from proven in the NFL, he’s played in eight NFL games. Let’s look at the other North Dakota State quarterback seen as can’t-miss for a long-term prognosis. How’s Carson Wentz’s future look?
What about Trey Lance?
Lance hasn’t proven he’s capable of being an NFL starting quarterback. Plenty of teams would be willing to give him a shot. He’d be great but unlikely trade bait. San Francisco did draft him No. 3 overall in 2021 and Lance hasn’t proven he’s incapable of leading an offense quite like Zach Wilson did with the Jets, who was selected one slot ahead of him. There’s no shot team general manager John Lynch hangs onto all three quarterbacks. And the most amount of capital you’d get in return for any of them would be for Lance. Garoppolo isn’t the young guy anymore and Purdy could be a flash in the pan. If you’re looking for one of the three to revitalize a franchise, Lance is the way a team in the middle of a rebuild should go. And that’s far from what’s going on in the Bay Area.
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Purdy led the team from Week 13 on and counting the postseason; that run of nine games is more than Lance has played in for his entire NFL career. After he got hurt early in the NFC Championship game and Josh Johnson completely sucked as San Francisco’s fourth-in-line choice, the 49ers fell apart and couldn’t move the ball. With all those weapons on both sides of the ball and without the proper engine, the whole machine failed. Christian McCaffrey is one of the best running backs in the league, George Kittle is one of the best tight ends in the NFL, and Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are one heck of a receiver combo. And mostly everything needed a handyman to fix. And the NFL’s best mechanics don’t do that kind of work until the offseason.
When in doubt, you go with experience. It’s not farfetched to believe Garoppolo set the table and did the grunt work to set a 49ers quarterback up for success this season and didn’t get to reap the benefits because he got hurt. Purdy came in and didn’t fuck it up! Congratulations. Mr. Irrelevant knew how to follow the set of tasks set up by somebody else. That is no small feat, but made much easier with the amount of dominant talent around you. And looking at the 49ers’ schedule for Week 13 on, until the game against the Eagles, tell me one team that San Francisco shouldn’t have easily defeated with its roster? The answer is none and no other response is acceptable.
Montana’s comments aren’t out of line at all. It cuts through any claptrap and dives into what the team needs at quarterback moving forward to win another Super Bowl. Yes, Lynch will have to roll out the red carpet to make Garoppolo feel comfortable. It’s better to have a red carpet and cater to one quarterback with a Lombardi Trophy than neither. Garoppolo has always been consistent no matter where he’s been. And it’s time for the 49ers to recognize that or he’ll go be a success somewhere else.
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