One of the most interesting running back situations in NFL history is unfolding in San Francisco. It’s a good problem to have, but an annoying problem nonetheless. Winning the Super Bowl is nearly impossible without a solid quarterback. If there is one team in the NFL right now that is designed to win the future championship without a possible Hall of Famer behind center, it’s the 49ers. Still, the team could make a big case for three or four options on who will be its starting quarterback next season. And Franchise Godsend Joe Montana has his say between Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo, Brock Purdy and an undisclosed free agent back. And his multiple answer is correct.
Regardless of Brock Purdy’s torn UCL, Montana believes Garoppolo should start Week 1 for the 49ers next season, and it’s safe to say the four-time Super Bowl champion knows a thing or two about winning in the NFL. The three-time Super Bowl MVP’s logic is easy to understand and comes with a well-measured jab from Steve Young. Garoppolo has the greatest overall success behind him. Lance is far from proven in the NFL, playing in eight NFL games. Let’s take a look at another North Dakota State linebacker who is considered indispensable for the long-term forecast. What does the future look like for Carson Wentz?
What about Trey Lance?
Lance hasn’t proven he’s capable of being a starting NFL quarterback. A lot of teams would be willing to give him a chance. He would make a great but unlikely trade bait. San Francisco drafted him No. 3 overall in 2021, and Lance hasn’t proven he can’t lead an offense like Zach Wilson did with the Jets, who was drafted one spot ahead of him. The team’s general manager without a shot, John Lynch, is sticking with all three backs. And the highest amount of equity you would get in return for any of them would be for Lance. Garoppolo is no longer a young guy, and Purdy could be the moment. If you’re looking for one of the three to revitalize the franchise, Lance is the way to go for a team in the midst of a rebuild. And that’s a far cry from what’s happening in the Bay Area.
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Purdy led the way team from Week 13 onwards and including the postseason; that the nine game streak is more than Lance has played in his entire streak NFL career. After he got hurt early in the NFC Championship game and Josh Johnson was downright bad as San Francisco’s fourth overall pick, the 49ers fell apart and couldn’t move the ball. With everything those weapons on both sides of the ball and without a proper engine, the whole machine failed. Christian McCaffrey is one of the best running backs in the league, George Kittle is one of the best tight ends in the NFL, and Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are a hell of a combination. And mostly everything had to be repaired by a craftsman. And the NFL’s best mechanics don’t do that kind of work until the offseason.
When in doubt, go with experience. It’s not implausible to believe that Garoppolo set the table and did the hard work to set up the 49ers quarterback for success this season and was unable to take advantage because he got hurt. Purdy came in and didn’t screw it up! Congratulations. Mr. Nebitni knew how to follow a series of tasks set by someone else. That’s no small feat, but it’s a lot easier with the amount of dominant talent around you. And looking at the 49ers’ schedule for Week 13 onward, to game against the Eagles, tell me one team that San Francisco shouldn’t have easily defeated with their roster? The answer is none and no other answer is acceptable.
Montana’s comments are not at all out of place. He cuts through any nonsense and dives into what the team needs in a quarterback moving forward to win another Super Bowl. Yes, Lynch will have to roll out the red carpet to make Garoppolo comfortable. It’s better to have a red carpet and satisfy one quarterback with a Lombardi trophy than neither. Garoppolo has always been consistent no matter where he’s been. And it’s time for the 49ers to recognize that or they’ll find success elsewhere.