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Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana -- the player who was universally accepted as the NFL's greatest of all time after winning four Super Bowls, three Super Bowl MVPs and two NFL MVPs with the San Francisco 49ers -- has a hard-line stance about who the next long-term 49ers starting quarterback should be. He has voiced his opinion about the position before, saying Jimmy Garoppolo should be the guy over the more mobile Trey Lance, the quarterback San Francisco spent four draft picks -- three first-round picks and a third-round pick -- to select third overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

On Wednesday, Montana doubled down on his lack of love for Lance and sided with the currently injured Brock Purdy, who was the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. Montana also noted his his support in bringing back Garoppolo a few days ago was with the context of what the 49ers should do if Purdy's elbow injury, which reportedly needs six months, isn't healed by the time the 2023 season begins. 

San Francisco won Purdy's first seven starts in place of an injured Lance and Garoppolo, and his 116.0 passer rating from Week 14 through the divisional round of the playoffs was the best in the NFL. It also marked the best by a 49er in a seven-game span since Hall of Famer Steve Young, Montana's successor, in 1996-1997.  The rookie suffered an elbow injury on San Francisco's first drive of the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles. If Purdy is healthy, Montana says that's the guy. 

"If Purdy's healthy I think it's his job," Montana said Wednesday, via NBC Sports.

Brock Purdy
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However, when asked about how Lance will be available to take nearly all of the offseason reps at quarterback in San Francisco's summer team activities, Montana reiterated he doesn't think Lance can lead the team to a Super Bowl because of his small body of work through two seasons. Lance has made four starts, going 2-2, in eight games played since 2021. Montana's first Super Bowl title came in his third season in the NFL (1981), but the 49ers legend doesn't see that in the cards for Lance even though he himself went 2-6 in eight career starts through his first two seasons (1979-1980). 

"I don't think he's [Lance] ready yet," Montana said. "I don't think he's ready to take that caliber team. Talented kid, and he might be, part way through the year if he gets more starts. I don't know, but do you want to turn over a team that you want to get off to a great start with a guy you still have a question about?"

Montana may be projecting his grudge about the 49ers choosing to trade him to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993 in order to promote the more mobile Young to the starting quarterback spot onto Lance due to his stylistic similarities to Young. Either way, the race to become the next long-term San Francisco 49ers will be a Purdy big storyline to follow across the 2023 offseason.