There are unpopular takes and there are asinine takes. This take falls onto the latter. Does anyone remember David Carr? Of course you don’t. Carr put on a 49ers uniform during the Mike Singletary days and saw game action for an injured Alex Smith during all of three quarters. That was enough for the 49ers to decide to put third stringer Troy Smith in at quarterback while Alex Smith recovered. Carr’s time in San Francisco will be remembered for one chant.
Well, Carr is out of the NFL and an analyst for NFL.com while his younger brother, Derek tries to not follow in his footsteps. Though the word “analyst” should be used loosely because because when they talked about the top-10 quarterbacks of all time Carr left 49ers hall of famer Joe Montana out. Just omitting him could leave our imaginations to do the rest, but Carr attempted explaining why:
“I’ve been in the pocket, I understand. Bill Walsh is a genius, Bill Walsh is a genius, and Joe Montana arrived at precisely the right time just like the white wizard Gandalf, he arrives precisely when he intends to. Joe Montana showed up from Notre Dame. Bill Walsh is a genius. The defenses they were facing were not even close to being ready for this. This was a walk in the park. This was 7-on-7 against junior high kids. They had no idea what they were seeing with the shifts, and the motions, and the ball out on time. Steve Young is a far better quarterback.”
Those of you who are frequent to Niners Nation know I have the unpopular opinion of saying Joe Montana is not the No. 1 quarterback of all time. I do feel Tom Brady has surpassed him and this is coming from a guy whose hero was Montana. Montana was the reason I became a 49ers fan. I also think the quarterbacks played in two different eras so ranking them is a bit unfair since no one knows how durable Brady would have been with the bulldozers running him over in the 80s.
I can understand putting Brady ahead of Montana. But to leave him off the list entirely? You need to have a good argument to not have him in the top-5 or top-3—it’s subjective at that point but the top-10?
Alright, let’s break down these arguments one by one.
“Bill Walsh is a genius,”
Why, yes he is.
“Joe Montana arrived at precisely the right time just like the white wizard Gandalf, he arrives precisely when he intends to. Joe Montana showed up from Notre Dame. Bill Walsh is a genius.”
There are two things wrong with this. First, Gandalf the White doesn’t arrive when he needs to. That’s Gandalf the Grey who says that. Gandalf the White shows up when he finds Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas. If you’re a purist, you’d say he never said that since he never says that in the Lord of the Rings books.
Second, Joe Montana arriving precisely at the right time? You mean at precisely the right time to back up Steve Deberg in 1979? And to start seven games in 1980? That right time? That doesn’t sound like precision. Jimmy Garoppolo arrived at precisely the right time—then he got injured. Joe Montana arrived and needed to develop.
But yes, he is right, Bill Walsh is still a genius.
“The defenses they were facing were not even close to being ready for this.”
Hey, you remember when the New York Giants beat the heck out of the 49ers in the playoffs? Yes, I repressed that memory too, but they showed that you could beat the 49ers, if you knew what you were doing. The Minnesota Vikings had some fun with it as well, just throwing that out there. On the other hand, Montana took things to a whole ‘nother level more often than not. My point is, it wasn’t like he was unfair or something. He was darn close though.
This was 7-on-7 against junior high kids. They had no idea what they were seeing with the shifts, and the motions, and the ball out on time.
Is he talking about Super Bowl XXIV? That was, after all, one the best games of Montana’s career. Speaking of that, did you know that Bill Walsh wasn’t the coach of the 49ers that year? So the 49ers didn’t have a genius for what was one of the most lopsided Super Bowls in NFL history. And Montana’s best.
“Steve Young is a far better quarterback.”
The 49ers thought and said that exact same thing...when Montana was 37 years old and it was time to move on with Steve Young in the building. Oh by the way, Montana didn’t have Jerry Rice for most of his career like Steve Young did. That will always help your stats.
So there you have it. Every year there’s some segment that comes in that I need to break down like this and every year I’m out of breath when I’m finished. I can respect any argument for or against Montana not being No. 1. I can’t respect one that doesn’t put him in the top-5. Especially after what he had to go up against. The Bears defense? Remember that? That was a Montana thing, not a Bears-not-ready thing.