The close of minicamp last week means we are into the home stretch of the offseason. That also means it is the generally the quietest part of the year for football news (and hopefully all other news!). That means lists aplenty. NFL.com has been putting together all sorts of lists, and their latest is a look at quarterbacks.
Elliot Harrison took a look at all 32 teams and ranked them based on quarterbacks over their franchise history. He picked three quarterbacks for each team. He then ranked them first against each other, and then team-by-team. In looking at the San Francisco 49ers, Harrison selected Joe Montana, Steve Young and John Brodie, and ranked them fourth overall. Here is what he said about the 49ers quarterbacks.
Choosing between the Cowboys and 49ers at third and fourth was darn near impossible, so consider these next two 3a and 3b. Montana is the best quarterback of all time -- yes, still today. His four Super Bowl wins -- without a single interception in any of them -- are tough to beat. He won NFL MVP twice, as did Steve Young. As did John Brodie, in 1970. If you were wondering about Y.A. Tittle, he is remembered more for his days in New York than in San Francisco, despite playing longer in the Bay.
The top three on this list were the Green Bay Packers (Bart Starr, Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre), Indianapolis/Baltimore Colts (Johnny Unitas, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck) and Dallas Cowboys (Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Tony Romo). The fifth place team is Washington with Sammy Baugh, Sonny Jurgensen and Joe Theismann.
The justification for the Packers was that all three have Super Bowl rings, and they have won a combined six league MVPs and three Super Bowl MVPs. For the Colts, the author ranked Unitas and Manning No. 3 and No. 4 on his ranking of the best QBs ever.
I can see the argument for those two. I think a strong argument can be made for the 49ers to be at the top. He acknowledges Joe Montana is the greatest quarterback ever, and then ranks Steve Young No. 12. I think an argument can be made that in this kind of context, he might be underrating Young. We know what Young could do at his peak, and I don't know that it is unfair to extrapolate out more opportunities for Young. For the Colts, he was ready to include Luck after only three seasons. I think Luck is a worthy inclusion, but I think that potentially boosts the value of Young in this discussion.
All that being said, there are reasonable arguments to be made. Where I am a bit more skeptical is with the Dallas Cowboys. Those are three great quarterbacks, but for these purposes, I don't think the argument stands up nearly as well. Troy Aikman was a great quarterback with that offensive line. I'd take Steve Young over Troy Aikman, and I think we could get into an interesting discussion with John Brodie vs. Tony Romo. They're certainly not the same quarterback, but there are some interesting similarities, particularly given the 49ers relative lack of postseason success compared to the Tony Romo Cowboys.
This is all just a random topic for discussion, but it is kind of a unique take on the frequent "best quarterback ever" debate. For the 49ers, John Brodie frequently gets short shrift for his 17-year career. He won't be getting in the Pro Football Hall of Fame anytime soon. I like the idea of being able to remember just how solid he was during his career with the 49ers.