Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Rich 49ers history motivates Jimmy Garoppolo to be great

Jan 15, 2020 at 9:12 AM--

If you haven't read it already, I really suggest you dive into Nick Wagoner's feature this morning for ESPN (h/t to Matthew Flanagan for pointing it out). It's a lengthy read, but you won't regret the time spent.

In the feature, the 49ers beat writer examines the relationship between old and new. When head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch took over the team in 2017, there seemed to be a gap between the current team and the legendary ones that came before it.

While Shanahan and Lynch wanted to rebuild the 49ers in their own way, they also desired to bridge that gap.

Since then, former players like Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, and Steve Young have been welcomed back with open arms. The players and the organization have embraced their presence.

Three years after Shanahan and Lynch took over, the 49ers are once again on the doorstep of a Super Bowl. They are one win away from a trip to Miami in February for a chance to hoist the organization's sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy.

History has accompanied the 49ers on this journey. As Wagoner points out, current players have ties to past ones. Third-year receiver Kendrick Bourne keeps in touch with the Hall of Famer receiver, Rice. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner has bonded with legendary offensive lineman Jesse Sapolu. Second-year linebacker Fred Warner has access to NaVorro Bowman.

In New England, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sat and learned behind one of the greatest to ever play the game, Tom Brady. How could anything else be more intimidating than that? Then Garoppolo was traded to San Francisco, where names like Montana, Young, and even John Brodie preceded him.

San Francisco has a quarterback legacy that is tough to follow.

Garoppolo "has an open line" to Young. Wagoner reports that, at one point this season, the Hall of Fame quarterback asked Garoppolo if the team's rich quarterback history felt like a weight.

It's doesn't. It's motivation.

"It pushes you," Garoppolo said. "It sets the standard for quarterback play. And the tradition that they've set here with the Niners, it's incredible."

Garoppolo is on the doorstep of cementing his own legacy. Many underestimated his impact following a devastating ACL injury last season. Still, here he is, ready to do what so many since Montana and Young have failed to accomplish — win a championship.

Click here to read Wagoner's entire feature over at ESPN.

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