SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Since 1946, the San Francisco 49ers have produced some of the NFL’s most illustrious quarterbacks in league history.
Over those 68 seasons, the distinguished careers of Steve Young, Joe Montana, John Brodie, Y.A. Tittle, and Frankie Albert lead the list as the team’s best QBs of all 38 players to start under center.
Only two of the five on the list helped lead the 49ers to Super Bowl victory: Montana and Young.
Playing for an organization whose hallowed reputation as having the game’s best passers comes with unparalleled pressure which can lead to only two outcomes: earn the chance to follow in the steps of football legends, or fade into obscurity and become a businessman.
Recall the recent one-and-done performances from highly praised QBs Chris Weinke, Ty Detmer, and Jim Druckenmiller. The team, fans and media expected Super Bowl wins from each player as each showed promise while playing in college. All three got only one start with the 49ers before taking up a permanent position on the bench.
Not every former Niners quarterback is forced to find another line of work after leaving San Francisco. Steve Bono, Alex Smith, and Elvis Grbac all found success in Kansas City.
In the last 10 seasons, the 49ers’ quarterback position has been a revolving door that saw 10 players call the signals. Before that, the role was occupied mostly by Jeff Garcia and Young.
The team is now banking (in every sense of the word) that Colin Kaepernick will restore the 49ers’ rich quarterback tradition. Kaep signed on to be the team’s quarterback through at least 2020 in a deal that will pay him $61 million in guaranteed salary with the potential to top $126 million with incentives.
He’s now the leagues second-highest paid quarterback behind Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers ($22 million).
“Colin’s hard work and dedication have played an integral role in the recent success of the 49ers organization,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said. “His work ethic, leadership and on-field production have positively influenced our team, and we look forward to his continued growth in all areas. Our organization always looks to reward our players for their contributions and commitment to the team.”
Since displacing starting QB Smith two years ago, Kaepernick led the 49ers to their first Super Bowl in 18 years after the 2012 season — losing by three points to Baltimore — and then to the NFC championship game last season, a three-point defeat to the rival and eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
The 26-year-old has been unaffected by the pressure of being a 49ers quarterback, something he says he owes to Smith. “I don’t think I would be able to be at this point so quickly if he hadn’t been such a great mentor to me and helped me along with things,” Kap said.
Unlike his predecessors, Kaep is basking in the attention brought on by his success. He’s been featured in the nude on magazine covers, has hosted award shows, and has been linked to high-profile celebs by several tabloids and blogs.
Keep in mind, he reached stardom after only three seasons as a pro.
His inexperience as a star athlete got the best of him. In April, Kaep was named in a Miami police report which the sports media speculated might be a concern for the 49ers.
Police say the players also involved in the case are 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton and Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette. None of them has been charged with any wrongdoing.
Kaepernick said last week he hopes the investigation will soon be over. He said that matter didn’t affect his thoughts about whether it would affect the extension.
“That wasn’t something I was worried about,” Kaepernick said. “I let my agents handle all the talking.”
Signing Kaep into 2020 is the right move for 49ers. If the team isn’t concerned about his off-field activities, then Niner Nation shouldn’t be either.
He’s got more tools and talent than Montana and Young. He’s also got a tremendous young coach that seems to understand how to develop players like Kaepernick by giving him a space to test his abilities and build his confidence.
And, he’s focused on winning.
“Trying to win as many Super Bowls as I can,” he said. “I think that’s your goal as a player to try to win a Super Bowl every year that you’re playing.”
If the team can support Kaepernick with smart personnel moves, there’s a realistic possibility her will win Super Bowls — and that he will join legends Joe, Steve, Frankie and Y.A. atop “Mt. Walshmore.”
Where Do You Rank Kaepernick Among 49er QB Legends? Comment Below!
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