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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Montana doesn’t believe Trey Lance is ready to take over, explains Jimmy Garoppolo comments

Feb 8, 2023 at 3:25 PM--

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NFL legend Joe Montana made headlines this week when he told columnist Mike Silver on a podcast that if the decision were his, Jimmy Garoppolo would remain the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. Montana pointed to the number of games Garoppolo has won for the organization, something that third-year quarterback Trey Lance hasn't had an opportunity to do yet.

Of course, if Brock Purdy hadn't gotten hurt in the NFC Championship Game, this might not be a discussion worth having. The 23-year-old quarterback would likely be the frontrunner to start in 2023. However, he is facing a six-month recovery after undergoing surgery later this month to repair the tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow.

On Wednesday, Chris Rosvoglou of The Spun asked Montana about his comments to Silver and the Hall of Fame quarterback's vote of confidence in Garoppolo.

"I don't hang around down there, so I don't exactly know what's going on," Montana admitted. "If their quarterbacks don't get hurt, I think the 49ers have a great chance of being in the Super Bowl. As good as Philadelphia is, I think the 49ers were on a roll.

"You have a Super Bowl-caliber team. Do you give it to Trey [Lance], who is still young in that offense? Or do you let it get off to a good start - if [Brock] Purdy is not healthy - with someone who understands that offense, and that's Jimmy [Garoppolo]?

"It doesn't feel like, to me, that Trey is 100 percent ready to take over. He would still be in the learning process. Unless the 49ers plan on picking up someone that can fit in right away. I don't know who that would be."

Although, Montana added the following cryptic comment to end his response.

"There's one guy, but I won't say a name because I don't want to start anything. But there's one guy that might be floating around," Montana noted.

It's unclear to whom Montana is referring. Tom Brady recently re-retired. Aaron Rodgers would likely eat up too much of the 49ers' salary cap, not to mention the draft capital the team would have to surrender to acquire him.

Montana believes both Garoppolo and Purdy have benefitted from head coach Kyle Shanahan's system and a talented supporting cast of star players. With Purdy facing a lengthy recovery time and the 49ers owning a championship-ready roster, Montana doesn't feel the team should rely on Lance.

"We saw Jimmy Garoppolo do the same thing in the past," Montana said of Garoppolo taking advantage of the good talent around him. "So it's hard to get rid of a guy like that until you know that Purdy is healthy. I think Purdy, in my mind, is the starter if he's healthy. I'd say see how Purdy comes along [in his recovery] before letting Jimmy go."

Regardless of Montana's comments, Garoppolo's time with the 49ers is likely done. The veteran quarterback is scheduled to become a free agent on March 15. When asked if he could envision a scenario where Garoppolo might return to the 49ers, Shanahan bluntly responded, "No, I don't see any scenario of that."

What about Purdy? What did the NFL great see from the young quarterback during his rookie NFL outings?

"The system is great, he fits into the system very well, and he has a lot of weapons," Montana said. "He understands he doesn't need to make big-time plays, but he can make them. The best thing he can do is get the ball to the guys who can make plays. You have Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk. Those guys can all go the distance. That offense is predicated on spreading the ball around, and he has done a great job of that."

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