Joe Montana: Jimmy Garoppolo offers 49ers ‘hope’ but too early to ‘anoint’ him
It took little time for new San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to make a big impression after arriving in a trade from the New England Patriots last Halloween.
Garoppolo waited his turn and when he got it, led the Niners to a 5-0 surge down the stretch that included wins against playoff-bound teams such as the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. That was enough for San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch to reward Garoppolo with a five-year, $137.5 million contract that at the time set a record for the highest average annual value in league history.
That finishing flourish was also enough for some excited 49ers fans to begin wondering whether Garoppolo could be the long-awaited franchise quarterback the team has sought since the days of Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young.
On Tuesday, Montana made a couple of media appearances in which he discussed what he saw from Garoppolo in 2017, how he sees Garoppolo moving forward and the buzz that seems to be building around the Niners’ new quarterback.
“I think it’s still a little early for [the hype] myself,” Montana said on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football.” “He’s obviously had a lot more success in the games he’s played in so far than the other quarterbacks that have been there recently. So I think there’s a lot of excitement in the Bay Area about it. I think this year will be a big tell on it. They paid a lot of money for him. But I think there’s some belief there that he’ll be there for a while.”
In a later appearance on Mad Dog Sports Radio, Montana expounded on why he believes it is too early for the hype. Specifically, Montana pointed to a history of quarterbacks who learned from legends leaving the nest and struggling to have similar success after departing.
“I just haven’t seen success from guys who have left behind quarterbacks like Tom [Brady] or go all the way back to Danny Marino,” Montana said. “When those guys leave and go to another system, if the guy in front of them leaves and they stay in that system, they seem to have more success. But if they leave and go to another team, I don’t think there’s been any successful quarterback that have made it for any length of time. There’s probably three right behind Tom that left already. So I’m hoping that this is a difference for the 49ers because he did bring a lot of life into the stands and to the fans there. They have a lot of hope.”
Montana, of course, is referring to former New England quarterbacks such as Matt Cassel, who learned from Brady and had some success in replacing him for a season but didn’t fare as well after becoming the starter for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Montana also said he believed Garoppolo benefited from taking over at a point in the season when expectations for the Niners were minimal.
“I think he came in at a good time at the end of a year of a really crappy year for them and I think there’s a lot of hope there, but I still want to see a full season played,” Montana said. “Because it’s easy to come in at the end of a season when a team is down and no one is expecting things and be able to win. I don’t want to say it’s easy, that’s a bad word to choose. But it was all set up for him to be successful that way. So I just hope that it continues for the 49ers’ fans sake that this is the right person to take over there and it was worth paying all that money.
“You come in at the end of the season like that when there wasn’t a whole lot of expectation from the opposite side, from the other team they were playing at the same time. He did seem to uplift the team, which is a good sign. Everybody is anointing him right now, but let’s just give him some time to settle in and make sure he’s the guy.”
Garoppolo has started just seven games in his career, five of which came with the Niners at the end of the season. Understandably, Montana would like to see Garoppolo continue or at least approximate his late-season success before fully buying in Cheap Panthers Jerseys.
Now that he’s locked in as the Niners’ starter for the foreseeable future, Garoppolo will finally have his chance to remove all doubt.
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Joe Montana isn’t ready to hand Tom Brady the GOAT mantle
Joe Montana retired after the 1994 season, finishing up his second campaign with the Kansas City Chiefs. His resume is impeccable, including four Super Bowl rings and three MVP awards.
Montana, 61, played the first 13 years of his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers. Upon his retirement, the former Notre Dame quarterback was universally recognized as the greatest player of all time at his position, a mantle that has come into question with the emergence of Tom Brady.
With Brady claiming five Super Bowl titles and three MVPs of his own, many believe that the New England Patriots’ signal-caller is the best that ever was. So what does Montana himself think on that score?
He didn’t answer that question directly what speaking with FanSided’s Mark Carman on Tuesday, but his wife Jennifer did provide some tongue in cheek insight.
“He does make us refer to him as the GOAT around the house,” Jennifer Montana said while laughing.
What Montana did admit is that he felt he was the best during his playing career, noting that he and his Niners teammates needed that mindset to achieve the success that they did.
“I think it burns in anybody who has had success down the line,” Montana said. “Just being in the league for any length of time, I think you have to have a certain attitude to survive in it. If you don’t think you are better than somebody else, than hopefully you are on somebody else’s team.”
Despite all his accomplishments and a bevy of injuries that includes multiple concussions, back surgery, elbow inflammation and more, Montana wishes he would have played a few more seasons before calling it quits.
“I still look back and think I probably got out at the right time, maybe could have cut down a year to two just to be safe,” Montana said. “But most of my injuries I had had prior to that. I still think I could have played a little longer. You always look back on those things. The career is so short and you love the game so much, it’s just so exciting when you play.”
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In that same vein, the first-ballot Hall of Famer also discussed the game’s precarious situation regarding its safety. While the NFL has been taking steps to help reduce violence and unnecessary contact to the head, there are still obvious problems moving forward in terms or health.
“It’s hard to watch the game go through what it is going through, but totally understandable. I always thought that kids at a really young age weren’t quite as susceptible to these things because it was more like bunch-ball. They’d snap the ball, they would all get in a bunch, they’d go and they would all fall down. But at a point in time some kids get more mature quicker and that’s when I think the game gets more dangerous.”