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Steve Young on Jimmy Garoppolo: Sitting behind a legend is ‘a big piece to the puzzle’



There’s something to be said for learning from a legendary quarterback.

At least, that’s what former 49ers’ great Steve Young thinks.

Young spent more than four seasons as Joe Montana’s primary backup after joining the 49ers, and eventually, he became one of the franchise’s most successful quarterbacks. Young can relate to the team’s newest quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, who spent the first three seasons of his career backing up Tom Brady in New England.

On Wednesday afternoon, Young joined Tolbert & Lund on KNBR and explained the value of riding the bench when the starter is an icon.

“It’s legit. You watch it, as hard as it was to watch, you say, that’s how it’s supposed to look,” Young said. “You might be a different player, Joe and I might be different players, but I got a sense of what it took. You got to Philadelphia and it’s Jerome Brown and Reggie White and they’re blitzing like crazy and it’s, okay, I get how you’ve got to play. What it feels like when it’s a big game, how it’s important, how do you build a locker room, how do you handle success, how do you handle failure? You see all of that with great players. i think it’s a big piece to the puzzle and a big leg up for Jimmy because he’s seen it all. Trained it. And to me, it’s the expectation level.”

Though Young was forced to wait longer for his turn than Garoppolo had to wait for his, they both faced similar situations toward the beginning of their careers. Young said Wednesday that the biggest challenge for Garoppolo now is to learn head coach Kyle Shanahan’s playbook and to put himself in a position to meet expectations, because Young knows the Bay Area anticipates quite a bit from the 49ers’ new signal-caller.

“To have the nuances and the subtleties (of the playbook), there’s no chance,” Young said. “He’ll (Garoppolo) finish the season and the last game he’ll go, finally I’m getting a little feel. But that’s just the nature of the situation he’s in. We’re going to have to see him pedal really fast, really soon. That may be okay.”

Young said that because the 49ers don’t have much established talent around Garoppolo, his reps will be analyzed accordingly in the coming weeks. While the former Patriot won’t start for San Francisco this Sunday, when he does get his chance, Young said coaches, teammates and fans will all be watching to see if Garoppolo has special qualities.

“There is what I’ll call the ‘get it’ factor,” Young said. “Where you’ll get on the field and there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on and bad bounces, but you get it. And we all get that you get it.”

To listen to Young’s full interview with Tolbert & Lund, click the podcast link below. To listen to Young’s comments on learning to play behind a legend, skip ahead to the 11:30 mark.