The San Francisco 49ers are currently in freefall. After a contentious parting of ways with head coach Jim Harbaugh, the franchise has gone a combined 7-25. Jed York recently hired his third head coach in as many years. The low job security and organizational mismanagement has turned the Bay Area into one of the least desirable locations for potential head coaches. The pre-Harbaugh years proved just as cruel to fans. In the eight years before Harbaugh arrived, the 49ers went 46-82 and never enjoyed a winning season.
These recent lulls for one of the NFL’s marquee franchises have put some abysmal quarterbacking on display. Luckily, the other side of the coin ushers back memories of championships and glory. The 49ers are 5-1 in Super Bowls, the best winning percentage for any organization that has appeared in more than two.
Joe Montana and Steve Young are among the best signal callers to ever don a 49ers uniform, but who else joins them on the list? Having back-to-back all-time greats creates high expectations. More often than not, starting quarterbacks for San Francisco have fallen woefully short of meeting them.
The team’s history dates back to 1946. Given 71 years of history, plenty of quarterbacks have come and gone with little impact. In an effort to sift through those players, only individuals with multiple starts or a “bust” designation received consideration for worst. The best, of course, played considerably longer, and everyone is up for debate. Here are the 8 Best and 7 Worst Starting Quarterbacks in 49ers Franchise History.
15 BEST: Alex Smith (2005-2012)
14 WORST: Jim Plunkett (1976-1977)
13 BEST: Colin Kaepernick (2011-Present)
12 WORST: Trent Dilfer (2007)
11 BEST: Frankie Albert (1946-1952)
10 WORST: Blaine Gabbert (2014-Present)
9 BEST: Jeff Garcia (1999-2003)
8 WORST: Ken Dorsey (2003-2005)
7 BEST: Y.A. Tittle (1951-1960)
6 WORST: J.T. O’Sullivan (2008)
5 BEST: John Brodie (1957-1973)
4 WORST: Scott Bull (1976-1978)
3 BEST: Steve Young (1987-1999)
2 WORST: Jim Druckenmiller (1997-1998)
1 Joe Montana (1979-1992)
Was there ever any doubt? Joe Cool owned the 1980s. Hands down. Much like his biggest competitor for greatest quarterback of all time, Montana was overlooked in the draft. Every team had a chance to select him at least twice. He went to the 49ers with the 82nd overall pick in the third round. Montana split playing time with Steve DeBerg before starting all 16 games in 1981. San Francisco went 13-3, and Montana won the first of his four Super Bowls. Over the course of his career in San Francisco, Montana won three Super Bowl MVPs, two regular season MVPs, led the NFC in passer rating five times and was named to seven Pro Bowls (he earned another trip with the Chiefs in 1993). He never threw an interception in a Super Bowl game and currently holds the record for highest career Super Bowl quarterback rating (127.8). He also holds the 49ers’ record for passing yards (35,124) and touchdowns (244).
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