Super Bow LIV could be renamed the Joe Montana Bowl.
The 49ers legend and late-career Chief is declining to reveal his rooting interests for the Feb. 2 matchup in Miami, but he’s clearly a fan of both quarterbacks who have led his former teams to the promised land.
Jimmy Garoppolo, who threw the ball all of eight times in the NFC Championship, has been dogged by still-skeptical critics, who see a game manager who hasn’t had to put the team on his back very often. Throughout these playoffs, he’s been a supporting character. That’s perfectly OK with one of the best quarterbacks of all time.
“He’s doing exactly what he needs to do,” Montana said on KNBR’s “Murph & Mac” on Friday. “At some point in time they’re going to have to lean on him, like they did [against the Saints and Seahawks]. He’s come through in that part. I’m not concerned about it. I remember there’d be a stretch sometimes where I’d go two or three games without throwing a touchdown pass. I’m going, what do you want me to do, tell Roger [Craig] to fall down on the 1?
“It’s about winning and losing in that league, and it’s hard to win. Sometimes it takes a running game, sometimes you have to lean on the passing game. And almost always you have to lean on your defense. The 49ers are lucky because they have a pretty dang good one.”
The defense and rushing game have carried San Francisco this far, with the defense’s biggest challenge awaiting. Patrick Mahomes has been stopped for quarters, but not games in his NFL career. He’s dashed through the postseason, leading a high-wire offense averaging 43 points in the playoffs.
“Here’s my scariest thought,” Montana said of the 49ers’ defense of Mahomes. “Do you make him keep it in the pocket? Or do you try to put pressure and get him out of there? He’s dangerous both places.”
We’ll find out soon. As for Montana, he does not want to take sides.
“Depends on what city I’m in and what fans I’m talking to,” he said, asked whom he’s pulling for. “I’m just going to try to enjoy the game. I loved my time in San Francisco, we had a lot of success. But also the Chiefs took me in late in my career, took a chance, had a couple of good years there. Unfortunately for the concussion or so, I would’ve loved to play another year or so there. But great place to play, great organization, great fans. Same as here.”