From Hall of Famer King to NFL Soap: The Endless Drama of the 49ers QB (2023)

From Hall of Famer King to NFL Soap: The Endless Drama of the 49ers QB (1)

"The 49ers were Camelot... and you know who Sir Lancelot was."

— Carmen Policy, at Joe Montana's retirement ceremony

It's a classic soap opera, which you can always count on to deliver plenty of drama, with heroes, villains and a myriad of twists and turns. No, I'm not talking aboutGeneral Hospital.This show is not set in a fictional town called Port Charles (don't ask how I know that name) but in the real Bay Area town known as Santa Clara.

Of course, I'm talking about San Francisco 49ers quarterback theater. It's a quarterback room that has featured consecutive Hall of Famers, followed by three-time Pro Bowlers. Since those epic days spanning over 20 years, the 49ers have spent the last 20 years floundering with disappointments, injuries, and even some downright awful QB plays.

In case you missed that last sentence, I'll rephrase it: The 49ers followed 20 years of NFL QB royalty, with 20 years of NFL QB soap opera. And a lot of it has been unwatchable. If Joe Montana and Steve Young had died, they would have been turning over in their graves.

But they are not dead. They are fully alive and, like the rest of us, have had to endure consistently inconsistent play from a cast of characters who have struggled to live up to the championship standard set by Montana and Young. Even Jeff Garcia, who made three straight Pro Bowl appearances, fell short of that standard. But that's to be expected. No team can sustain that kind of play at quarterback. It is bound to fall off at some point.

But in the 20 years since Garcia left the team, the 49ers haven't had a single Pro Bowl quarterback. You read that correctly. The franchise that once epitomized QB excellence has gone two decades without a Pro Bowler. Garcia was the last 49ers quarterback to be named to the Pro Bowl. That was in 2002. Not surprisingly, in 2021, Young called the 49ers QB situation "horror-filled." It's been the stuff of nightmares for 20 years.

The 49ers, under head coach Bill Walsh, were a special team in the 1980s. They won four Super Bowls with Montana as the signal caller. San Francisco's offense has always been at or near the top of the league. They were elite. Even after the 49ers traded Montana in 1993, the offense was still one of the best in the NFL under Young.

ESPN football analyst Chris Berman said, "The Niners were classy in watching the football game and they were classy in the way they conducted it. It was the best. It was Camelot."

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That word, Camelot, was a word Bill Walsh used to describe the 49ers during the 1980s. It stood for something legendary. an Eddie DeBartolo dynasty, at Walsh's public memorial on the north side of Candlestick Park (where Camelot was born) said: "For one brief shining moment, there was a Camelot. That moment was our Camelot. Bill Walsh was our King Arthur, and this stadium it was our castle."

But it all started with the two Hall of Fame quarterbacks. The excellence, work ethic, and poise they demonstrated, even in the most tense moments, is what being the 49ers' quarterback meant during those championship years. It was about the victories, the trophies. These were legends turning into legendary moments. It was Camelot.

Then came the awful day in early 2000 when Young announced his retirement. It was the last time the 49ers would have a Hall of Fame quarterback-level game. Though they had a few years of Pro Bowl-level QB performance, they would never come close to the glories they enjoyed in the 80s and 90s.

Since then, the 49ers have had good quarterbacks, some decent, and some downright bad. They had call signs that nobody would want. Names like Cody Pickett, Ken Dorsey, Trent Dilfer, Chris Weinke, J.T. O'Sullivan, Troy Smith, Blaine Gabbert, Brian Hoyer, C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens. If you need to lie down for a few minutes, I'll be waiting for you.

Is it just bad luck? Are the 49ers cursed? Is it revenge? Once you've had two consecutive Hall of Famers at the QB position, are you now destined for disappointment? Is it the mistakes made by the organization or just bad luck that has plagued the job for the past 20 years? Let's see:

Selecting Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers

In 2005, the 49ers selected Alex Smith as number one overall. They chose Smith over a guy named Aaron Rodgers. As has been well argued, nobody knows if Rodgers would have fared better on those awful 2005-2010 teams. Would Smith have become Rodgers if he had to sit behind Brett Favre? Would Rodgers have become Smith if he had to switch offensive coordinators every year? It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had Rodgers been the QB that Jim Harbaugh inherited in 2011.

Smith was a good quarterback in the NFL, but Rodgers was not. How that would have turned out, we'll never know, but it seems like a bad decision.
Verdict: bad decision

Choose Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith

In 2012, when Smith was injured, sophomore quarterback Colin Kaepernick stepped in. The 49ers offense immediately went from kicking field goals to scoring touchdowns. Once Smith was healthy, Harbaugh stayed with Kaepernick. It was the right choice at the time.

But the longer Kaepernick played, the more NFL defenses affected him. And while he was a force to be reckoned with, it would have been interesting to see if the more consistent Smith might have been a better long-term option than the super-talented Kaepernick.

In 2014, his third season as a starter, Kaepernick's lack of development and unwillingness to work on his areas of weakness made him a very inconsistent passer and decision maker. I thought Kaepernick would become a superstar, but he fizzled out after a few years. Smith, meanwhile, had a few good seasons in Kansas City.
Verdict: bad decision

Selecting CJ Beathard in the third round in 2017

I'm not sure if C.J. Beathard, who was the first quarterback drafted by John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, should be a starting quarterback or not, but I doubt you'd take a guy in the third round if you just hope he's backup.

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Forget Beathard was taken in the same round as Montana (ugh!), he was taken a few rounds earlier than he was supposed to. He is a career backup and should never have been the first quarterback to be picked by this new regime.
Verdict: bad decision

Not casting Patrick Mahomes (2017) or Lamar Jackson (2018)

Not only did the 49ers select Beathard in the third round of the 2017 draft, but they also moved on to a very interesting prospect who already robbed them of a Super Bowl victory: Patrick Mahomes. They waived Mahomes to draft defensive tackle Solomon Thomas.

Then a year later they crafted an offensive tackle,Mike McGlinchey, rather than another intriguing QB prospect, Lamar Jackson. Swings and errors in consecutive drafts. That hurts!
Verdict: bad decision

Choosing Jimmy Garoppolo over Tom Brady

After the 2019 season, whentom bradybecame a free agent and made it clear that he wanted to play for his childhood team, the 49ers opted to keep Garoppolo.

Count me in as one of those who wanted to stay with Garoppolo. He almost won the Super Bowl and Brady hasn't looked his best in 2019. But he was wrong. That was the 49ers.

Brady would likely have won the Super Bowl with the 49ers in 2021 and maybe 2022.
Verdict: bad decision

Multiple Garoppolo lesions

A knee injury in 2018 cost him almost the entire season. An ankle sprain in 2020 cost him more than half of the season. A calf injury in 2021 cost him a game and a half. A thumb injury in 2021 that cost him a game. A shoulder injury in 2021, which required off-season surgery. A foot fracture in 2022 that cost him more than a month of games.

2019 was the only season Garoppolo was healthy.
Verdict: Bad Luck

Using 3 first round draft picks on Trey Lance

It's still too early to determine if it was a bad decision or not to writetrey lanzawith the third overall pick in the 2021 draft.he canThey argue that they paid a lot to get it. Has any player ever worked, when your team used so much draft capital to sign you? I'm not sure.
Verdict: bad decision

lance wounds

Lance started just four regular season games for the 49ers. He was wounded in two of them. Add to that the finger injury during the 2021 preseason, and Lance has almost as many injuries as he started with.
Verdict: Bad Luck

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Brock Purdy's injury

If it wasn't bad enough that the 49ers lost Lance and Garoppolo during the 2022 regular season, they lost the team's undefeated quarterback early in the NFC Championship Game whenbrock purdyhe went down with a torn UCL that could force him to miss training camp and even a few games of the 2023 regular season.
Verdict: Bad Luck

Indecision about who is QB1

Will Purdy be the 49ers' QB1 when he's healthy? John Lynch seems to think so, saying that Purdy is the "leader in the clubhouse" to be the 49ers' starting quarterback next season. Shanahan seems to agree. But the 49ers don't even know when he'll be healthy enough to return.

John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan in a nutshell:

Lynch: We hope Brock Purdy returns to training camp

Shanahan: It could be week 4.

— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows)March 28, 2023

While Lynch and Shanahan seem to know Purdy is the one, they still say there will be a competition for the top spot. Lynch said that Purdy (when healthy), Lance and Sam Darnold will compete for the role.

Hang on. And what about Sam Darnold? Does Sam Darnold really have a shot at being the 49ers' starting quarterback? It seems so. And it seems that Shanahan has little trust in Lance, regardless of what he says.

Shanahan spoke Tuesday about the 49ers QB situation, saying, "Trey had this position at the start of the year. We were really excited about it and we thought he was going to have an amazing year. He left... Brock played eight games and won them all and played at an extremely high level.

"We think Trey could be that. I think he would have done that last year if he'd stayed healthy. The good thing for him is with Brock injured and stuff, he has a chance to try to bounce back from that. That's also why ." we brought Sam. Because we can't be sure about Brock because you never know what the injury is going to be like. We think it will go well. We're bullish on that, but right now that's on hold. an opportunity for Trey and Sam to come in and show us what they've got."

They say they think Lance could be great, but his decisions say something different.

It looks like Lynch and Shanahan are telling us that Purdy is the man when he's healthy. But he is a seventh-round pick coming off a serious throwing arm injury.

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If Purdy isn't ready, or never regains full health, Lance and Darnold will compete, which seems odd considering how much they spent to recruit Lance and everything they've said about him. Either way, it promises to be an exciting and dramatic offseason and boot camp.
Verdict: bad decisions and bad luck

So what's the problem with the 49ers' QB room? Why a 20-year career as NFL QB royalty turned into a 20-year NFL soap opera Does anyone have a 49ers quarterback voodoo doll stashed under their mattress?

is it bad luck? Or is it a series of bad decisions? It's probably a little bit of both, but it feels more like bad decisions than bad luck. Make better decisions and the next 20 years will certainly be better than the last 20 years. It's the only chance the 49ers have to resurrect Camelot.

  • Marc Adams
  • Written by:

    Marc Adams

    spokesperson. Writer. Covering the San Francisco 49ers. Host of the 49ers show, Camelot.
    Find the 49ers Camelot show wherever you listen to their podcasts!

    All articles by Marc Adams

The opinions contained in this article are those of the author and, while equally important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

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According to Justin Melo of The Draft Network, the San Francisco 49ers were among the teams that faced Utah offensive tackle Braeden Daniels at the NFL Scouting Combine. . There is a lot of interest in Daniels," Melo wrote. Daniels has also been reunited with the Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals.[email protected]_Football's Braeden Daniels is one of the most versatile and experienced OLs in the 2023 NFL Draft.


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