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49ers Legend Joe Montana Thinks Hype Around QB Jimmy Garoppolo Is Premature

AP Montana
The Associated Press

The greatest San Francisco 49ers’ QB of all time, thinks people need to chill out with the high praise for the team’s current QB.

Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana, who led the 49ers to four Super Bowl championships, believes it’s way too early to call Jimmy Garoppolo “the savior” of the organization.

“I think it’s still a little early for it myself,” Montana said Tuesday on the NFL Network.

Based on their actions, the 49ers’ brass doesn’t agree with the legend. After just five starts in a 49er uniform at the end of last season, Garoppolo was rewarded with the then largest contract in NFL history (since surpassed by Kirk Cousins). Garoppolo got a five-year deal for $137.5 million with $74.1 million guaranteed.

There is no way around it – that is “savior” money.

When you make that kind of NFL coin at the quarterback position, you need to put a team on your back and lead them to the promised land. You aren’t paid like that to be a “game-manager.”

On November 1, 2017, the 49ers traded a 2018 second-round pick to New England for Garoppolo, a long-time backup for the Patriots, who was set to become a free agent after the season. The Patriots didn’t think they would be able to sign him long-term, so they decided to at least get something for him.

After sitting for a month to learn the offense, Garoppolo started the final five games of the season, and San Francisco went 5-0.

But keep in mind, he only threw seven touchdowns (and five interceptions), not exactly gaudy statistics. Also, they played two lousy teams (Chicago and Houston), an average team (Tennessee) and the Los Angeles Rams in Week 17 who were resting many starters for the playoffs. Garoppolo had one high-quality win during that five-game winning streak, over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Montana thinks you need to take that five-game winning streak with a grain of salt.

“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 on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio. “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.”

Montana’s point about opponent expectations is an important one. What often happens when a QB hasn’t played a lot is he catches opponents by surprise because they don’t have a lot of film on him. Once opposing coaches have a bunch of film on a quarterback, and on off-season to dissect his game, they do a better job of designing game plans to stop him. Just ask Robert Griffin III. 2018 could be a tougher challenge for Garoppolo.

Montana thinks we need to put away the anointing oil at this point.

“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.”

And maybe they should have waited to “make sure he’s the guy” before giving him all that money.

We will find out in the next season or two if the 49ers made the right decision.

But Montana isn’t jumping on the Garoppolo bandwagon just yet.

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