Is it possible that the two best quarterbacks in NFL history have ties to the Bay Area?
Short answer: you bet. Many, if not most NFL observers would say San Mateo native Tom Brady is the best signal-caller in the league’s history. And Joe Montana — the former San Francisco 49ers QB legend and Hall of Famer — is right there at the top of the list.
But it’s more difficult to remember Montana’s exploits, simply because they occurred longer ago. It’s fun to imagine, however: how would Montana fare in today’ game? He’d excel, surely, but to what extent?
With Montana recently celebrating a birthday, NFL Throwback compiled a fantastic Joe Montana highlight package. Whether you’ve seen Montana play live 100 times or never heard of him (unlikely), this picture reel is worth a watch.
Note Montana’s accomplishments, and as you watch, imagine what Montana could do in today’s game, where passing the football is encouraged as never before, both by coaches and the league, through pass-friendly rule changes.
That’s impressive stuff, in an era. Sure, Montana was blessed by the sports gods to have wide receiver Jerry Rice as a teammate in San Francisco, but “Joe Cool” has skills that jump off the screen.
I mentioned new rules that aid the passing game in the NFL. If Montana enjoyed the protection in the pocket that today’s quarterbacks receive, I believe he would have had an even better career, as improbable as that sounds. It’s a near certainty he would have, though — Montana had to be aware of and endure late, vicious hits that simply don’t exist in the league any longer.
It’s also likely he’d have had a longer career — or would have played in more career games — if he wasn’t hit as often as he was.
But that’s all details. Montana is one of the NFL’s best, and he always will be. And I’ve got a feeling Bay Area football fans will always represent Montana more than Brady. Just a hunch.
(Photo courtesy BrokenSphere)