Jed York’s comparison of the current quarterback situation to Joe Montana and Steve Young badly misses the mark

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Earlier this week, 49ers owner Jed York made a stunning, straight-face comparison of the team’s current quarterback situation to the embarrassment of riches that the 49ers enjoyed after trading for Steve Young during the height of Joe Montana’s career.

Young arrived in April 1987, with four years left on the contract he’d signed with the Buccaneers. After four years on the bench, Young finally received an extended opportunity to play, thanks to injuries suffered by Montana. Young then became the starter and eventually won a Super Bowl — after Montana had won four.

“If Steve Young can sit on the bench for four seasons, like, Steve Young’s a Hall of Famer. If he’s willing to do it and he has the competitive drive to do it, why can’t somebody else?” York said.

things were very different in the late 1980s and early 1990s. For starters, there was no free agency. No franchise tag. No salary cap. Young was stuck until the 49ers traded him, cut him, or made him subject to “Plan B” free agency, which was the league’s first toe in the water toward the current system of movement from one team to another.

Moreover, unhappy players largely kept their mouths shut 30 years ago. Today, there’s an ongoing revolution of players making their wishes known — and of teams respecting that.

Trey Lance isn’t sitting on the bench for four years. The 49ers didn’t invest three first-round picks and a third-round pick into a guy they planned to park for the entirety of his base rookie contract.

This narrative is less about setting up another Montana-Young transition (for starters, Jimmy Garoppolo is definitely not Joe Montana) and more about trying to conjure a trade market for Garoppolo, at a time when there isn’t one. As they wait for someone to become willing to give up something for a quarterback who just had shoulder surgery (without the team knowing it was happening), they’re trying to build leverage by creating the impression that they’re happy to keep Garoppolo and to start him in 2022, even if it means keeping Lance on the bench for another year.

Do they really think anyone is buying that? Do they think the rest of the league is dumb? Or do they think they’re smarter than the other teams?

Regardless, it’s hard to imagine anyone to give anything of value for a middle-of-the-pack-at-best quarterback who’s entering the final year of his contract at a compensation package of more than $25 million. The biggest question is whether the 49ers would actually keep him, pay him, and maybe even play him to avoid the potential indignity of having to cut him loose and get nothing in return.

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