These comments by Joe Montana went around the world so fast yesterday the Hadron Particle Collider couldn't measure it. And more than a few people sent it to me looking for comment. But it didn't move the needle for me much because, apart from a few comments from Montana in the past that quarterbacks today don't have to endure nearly as much physical abuse (fair), he's never been a sufferer of moderate to severe Brady Derangement Syndrome. Like so many others I've spent my career hunting like Blade going after vampires.
More importantly, what else Montana say? There's not a more settled debate in all of sports than Tom Brady is the GOAT. Reasonable people can differ on when he settled the argument. To me that cake was baked when he came back from 10 points down in the 4th against the Legion of Boom defense to win his fourth ring. Everything after that has just been frosting, buttercream flowers and piping around the edges. But no one can counter the argument without exposing his/her self as a total fraud.
There's no other discussion as moot as this one. Say Michael Jordan is the GOAT and Kareem can show you his points record and Bill Russell can put his hands filled with championship rings into a drawer and pull out the one he doesn't have a finger for. Most of the MLB greats have to answer for the fact they didn't have to face minority players. And I dare you to walk into any Boston pub with a photo of Bobby Orr's 1970 goal on the wall and say Gretzky is the GOAT. Cancel that. Do not do what I just said. I don't want to be banned for inciting a riot.
So good for Joe Cool for stating the blatantly obvious. But as far as things he deserves credit for, it's not up there with The Chicken Soup Game, The Catch or hitting John Taylor in the final minute to beat the Bengals in the Super Bowl.
Pardon that long windup to get to the point of this post, but to me these are the money shots of the discussions Montana had yesterday:
Here's the most pertinent part of the full quote:
“ It’s been tough for him staying healthy throughout the time he’s been with the 49ers and I think that becomes a concern if you can’t keep him on the field. I think it’s a tough decision with the cap money that he has against him, so I don’t know.”
Then while acknowledging he doesn't hang out around the 49ers facility all the time and saying he still thinks the team will bring Garoppolo back, he adds this caveat:
"I think when he's in there they have pretty good success and are winning and I think they just try to keep him healthy and see what they can get from there and if it continues along this way I imagine they will try to make a change because it's tough to get any kind of consistency offensively with moving quarterbacks in and out."
OK. Montana is concerned about Jimmy G's ability to stay on the field, but stuck to the diplomatic approach on First Take.. Fine and dandy for all involved. But then he was a lot more candid talking to a SI's 49ers reporter afterwards.
Now we're talking. Why don't you tell us how you really feel, Joe?
Look, I'm not saying that Montana is some defacto Assistant GM with all sorts of sway in the Niners front office and that John Lynch has some moral imperative to fulfill his wishes. What I am saying is that, when any organization's Statue Worthy legend has lost faith in its franchise player, to the point where he's openly admit in public he'd like to see him replaced? That is not nothing. Montana can't be alone in his thinking. No man is an island, not even a man with a geographical name. Just the fact that these questions are being asked so much and answered so much just 13 months after Garoppolo led San Fran to a Super Bowl has to be an indication that their fans - and undoubtedly some in Niners organization - are ready to move on.
This matters to me way less because I'm invested in the future of the 49ers than the fact I am about my own team. And the latest reports are they haven't been shopping for a quarterback yet because they don't like what's in the display case.
I should've added "yet." Assuming Montana's opinion is the prevailing one in San Francisco, this is huge. It means they'd not only be willing to talk trade with New England but might consider giving Garoppolo his outright release, take the cap savings and sign a veteran. Or swing a trade. Or simply use their 12th overall pick to grab the best available among the five potential first rounders. In all these erotic fantasy scenarios playing out in my head, Jimmy G makes his triumphant return to the team that brought him into the league and made him the most coveted QB with six quarters of NFL experience in the history of the world. Bill Belichick gets his man back, finally. And next season we get the Brady-Garoppolo showdown at Gillette the world needs so badly.
So I hope Montana is right about everything except that little matter of him saying he thinks they bring Jimmy GQ back. I've got a lot riding on this.