As QBs go, nobody does it better than Niners
No other NFL team ever had an enduring run of quarterback performance like that, and the 49ers also had some notable QB action before the Montana/Young juggernaut came along, putting San Francisco in the middle of any serious discussion regarding which franchises have been blessed with the best quarterback play.
To be sure, there are other franchises – several of them formed before the 49ers – who could stake a claim that their signal-callers were and have been the best.
If you go by the universal belief that quarterback is the most important position in football, it stands to reason that the team with the best quarterbacks over the long haul will win the most championships.
Four other iconic NFL franchises – the Green Bay Packers (13), Chicago Bears (nine), New York Giants (seven) and Pittsburgh Steelers (six) – have more NFL championships than the Niners. The Cleveland Browns won four NFL titles after winning four championships in the precursor All-American Football Conference.
Each of those franchises has had great quarterbacks, emphasizing the link between the position and championships.
It's an unscientific method, but FoxSports.com's "Franchise Players" page is a great starting point. In it, Fox lists five candidates for the best player in each franchise's history. There are 10 other teams besides the 49ers with two quarterbacks on the ballot:
Atlanta: Steve Bartkowski and Michael Vick.
Cincinnati: Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason.
Cleveland: Bernie Kosar and Otto Graham.
Dallas: Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach.
Green Bay: Bart Starr and Brett Favre.
Indianapolis: Johnny Unitas and Peyton Manning.
New Orleans: Archie Manning and Drew Brees.
N.Y. Giants: Y.A. Tittle and Phil Simms.
Tennessee: Steve McNair and Warren Moon.
Washington: Sammy Baugh and Sonny Jurgensen.
The only tandems that can really challenge Montana/Young from a historical standpoint is Green Bay's Starr and Favre and the Colts' Unitas and Manning.
But when you go beyond the top names, the Colts drop down to good but not legendary QBs such as Bert Jones and new 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.
That leaves the No. 1 debate for the 49ers and Packers.
The Niners have another Hall of Famer, Y.A. Tittle, and another quarterback who perhaps should be there, John Brodie.
Tittle led the 49ers in passing eight consecutive years from 1952-59, was NFL Player of the Year in 1957 and played in three Pro Bowls with the team before going onto further greatness (and two MVP trophies) with the New York Giants.
Brodie led the 49ers in passing 11 times in a 12-year span, won a passing title and NFL MVP trophy in 1970, led the Niners to their first three NFC West titles, threw for 31,548 yards and 214 touchdowns and was the third-leading passer in NFL history when he retired after the 1973 season.
San Francisco also had two other Pro Bowl quarterbacks: Frankie Albert, a 49ers pioneer who doesn't much get his historic due these days, and Jeff Garcia, who went to three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2000-2002 while leading the 49ers to their last two winning seasons.
The Packers probably feel they can go the 49ers one better after their current quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, led Green Bay to its fourth Super Bowl title earlier this year.
Green Bay has a strong argument. Rodgers, with a Super Bowl MVP and the lowest interception rate in NFL history to his credit, has a tremendous resume and is undoubtedly on a Hall of Fame progression. Starr was inducted in 1977 and Favre will be there as soon as he's eligible.
Tobin Rote and Lynn Dickey also had some notable seasons behind center in Green Bay, but they had just one winning season between them. The Packers can boast standout play from other quarterbacks in the 1930s and 1940s, most notably Hall of Famer Arnie Herber, but that was in a different era with names that wouldn't immediately be brought to mind for many outside of Green Bay.
So that leaves the 49ers at the top.
As the Niners search for their next winning quarterback – be it Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick or somebody else – that's a legacy to build on and strive for, not to mention uphold.
NinersDigest.com Recommended Stories
Dr. Roto Video: Waiver Wire Wednesday
Dr. Roto believes Miami Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry will overtake WR Brian Hartline as the team's No. 2 receiver sooner rather than later. Stay ahead of the curve with Dr. Roto!Read More
Giants Strike First In Game One Rout
The San Francisco Giants came out swinging in Game One of the 2014 World Series, scoring three times in the first inning and never looking back.Read More
Three of earth’s best ingredients combined into one succulent strip. Tailgaters will bow in appreciation.Read More
National Anthem Played with a Gun!
Musical targets? Yes, this guy plays the national anthem while shooting musical targets.Read More
Late Season Eastern Steel
NAFC friend, Frank Scalish, is best known for his achievements as a professional bass fisherman, but when the weather cools, the tourneys are over and the last bass has been weighed, he dons waders,…Read More
- GAMETHREAD: Week 7 - 49ers @ Broncos
- The jets acquire Percy Harvin from seahawks
- Why is Trent Baalke keeping the 49'ers from greatness?
- OT: Hurricane Gonzalo takes aim at Bermuda
- Week 7: Other games around the NFL