Just about every solitary football fan has seen a perform ranking the ten greatest quarterbacks to ever before play the game. 

Joe Montana normally occupies the peak spot top top the list, and if he"s no ranked numero uno, he"ll be second. 

Steve Young will certainly usually show up near the bottom the the list, if he provides it at all.

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I"ve watched him ranked as high as fourth, and that to be by me in an article around the ten greatest quarterbacks in history a year and also a half ago. I"ve likewise seen lists i m sorry don"t even include him among the optimal ten and also some lists which mention him in the high teens, i beg your pardon is in reality comical.


However, Joe Montana is for this reason popular, so legendary, therefore revered, the he has practically been universally embraced as the biggest quarterback ever. 

And if Montana is not No. 1, it"s probably Johnny Unitas. Absolutely not Steve Young.

How could Montana"s follower be far better than him? Did he win four Super key titles? No, he did not. He winner one. When this absolutely gives Montana a sizable advantage over Young, countless historians failure to also take the moment to carefully examine Young"s career against Montana.


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They should. A closer look could reveal the unthinkable. 

Montana"s successor, Young, can be even greater. In fact, Young could be the biggest quarterback in NFL history. 

So to to compare Montana and also Young, I have actually chosen four different topics to focus on:

Longevity Supporting cast on both offense and also defense Statistics  Postseason performance

Since Montana is thought about to it is in the king, we"ll look at his number first, and if we have time, we"ll examine Young second. 

1. Longevity

Montana played simply one game as a rookie in 1979, and also was handed the starting job in the middle of the 1980 season. From 1981 come 1985, Montana missed simply one start. 

But in 1986, Montana endured a earlier injury so severe that doctors said he retire. He ongoing playing, however, absent eight starts, but earning NFL Comeback Player the the Year honors for his late-season efforts.

From 1987 come 1990, Montana missed eight games, yet in the 1990 conference championship game, Montana suffered a fight from Giants" protective end Leonard Marshall.

The influence from the hit, and also multiple elbow injuries, led to Montana to miss out on every start in 1991 and 1992, throughout which he lost his beginning job to Steve Young. Prior to the 1993 season, Montana was traded come the Kansas City Chiefs, wherein he played well, however missed 7 starts because of injuries over the following two seasons. 


In his career, Montana do 164 starts, win 117 that them. His reputation as an injury-prone quarterback is well deserved.

He started all 16 games in a season simply twice and missed a complete of 57 potential starts because of injury. Had he stayed healthy throughout his whole career, that would have actually made 221 starts and would most most likely rank in the top 5 in most statistical categories.

Steve Young"s career is one of the much more unusual in the NFL history. 

He started out with the Los Angeles to express of the United says Football League but joined the Tampa only Buccaneers in the NFL after ~ the USFL went bankrupt. Young played two periods for the Tampa bay Buccaneers, winning simply 3 that 19 starts. However, the Bucs were plainly the worst team in the NFL, and Young achieved tiny success completing overcome to receivers Gerald Carter and Phil Freeman.

49ers" head coach and also offensive mastermind invoice Walsh liked what he experienced in Young and also traded two draft choose to acquire Young prior to the 1987 season.

Over the next 4 seasons, Young played whenever Montana to be injured, making a total of simply 10 starts. The was easily the best back-up quarterback in the NFL, throwing for a an unified total the 23 touchdowns and also six interceptions, consisting of ten touchdowns and also zero interceptions in 1987.

Young finally came to be a full time starter before the 1991 season, in ~ the age of 30, yet suffered a boy knee injury in midseason and missed 5 starts. 

Over the following seven seasons, Young let go 11 games: none indigenous 1992 come 1994, 5 in 1995, 4 in 1996, one in 1997, and one in 1998. Young let go a total of 17 games in eight seasons. He play in 111 the a feasible 128 gamings as the 49ers" beginning quarterback. 


Although Young earn a reputation for being rather injury-prone (rightfully so, because of the 7 concussions he endured throughout his career), the still played in 87 percent of games—much higher than Montana (74 percent). However, Montana make 21 much more starts 보다 Young during his career.

2. Supporting Cast

When Montana joined the 49ers in 1979, they to be a pitiful 2-14 team. Two years later, they to be Super bowl champions. Obviously, this couldn"t have been all due to the fact that of Montana.

So just how did they execute it?

The most important contributor come Montana"s success to be head coach bill Walsh, an attack mastermind who helped to perfect the West coast offense. 

Walsh drafted Montana in the 3rd round the the 1979 draft and immediately establish the potential in the previous Notre Dame quarterback, implementing him together a permanent starter prior to the begin of the 1981 season. Walsh is thought about to be among the best coaches in NFL history, and also his legend coaching tree includes a total of 31 coaches who have appeared in 15 at sight Bowls, winning nine. 

In 1979, the 49ers selected recipient Dwight Clark in the tenth ring of the draft.

Clark arised the next year as a heavy receiver and would walk on come a successful nine-year career. That earned 2 Pro bowl selections and was called an All-Pro after leading the organization in receptions in the strike-shortened season that 1982. 

In 1981, the 49ers drafted USC security Ronnie Lott with the eighth overall pick in the draft.

Lott instantly became a superstar and his impact on the defense was priceless. Lott played v the 49ers because that a complete of 10 seasons, earning an significant nine pro Bowl selections and five All-Pro honors. That is widely related to as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, notorious both because that his coverage abilities and also his knack because that delivering an effective hits. 


In 1985, the 49ers drafted recipient Jerry Rice, who, at training camp, boldly proclaimed his desire to become the all-time top receiver.

Rice became an instant threat, earning a agree Bowl berth and an All-Pro an option in all five of his periods with Montana. Rice was even much more incredible in the postseason, recording 18 passes because that 363 yards and four touchdowns in two Super bowl victories v Montana. 

Other notable offensive dangers for Montana"s 49ers contained receiver john Taylor, a two-time pro Bowler and also the receiver of the many famous capture in 49ers" Super key history, and versatile running back Roger Craig, a four-time pro Bowler and the an initial running ago to top 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the exact same season. 

During Montana"s reign, the 49ers boasted a wonderful defense. 

They ranked 23rd in points enabled in the strike-shortened season that 1982 however ranked in the top 4 in every various other season other than for 1988, as soon as they perfect eighth. In their four Super key championship seasons they ranked second, first, eighth, and third. Excluding 1982, the 49ers" median defense ranked 3rd in the 28-team league.

In fact, it can be suggested that the 49ers" defense was even better than their offense, i beg your pardon ranked an average of 4th in the league during those eight seasons.

When Young take it over together the starting quarterback in 1991, the 49ers were probably the finest team in the NFL. They had actually won the Super bowl in 1988 and 1989, and also in a search for the first-ever Super key three-peat, shed to the ultimate Super key champion new York Giants in the 1990 conference championship game.


Young"s head coach was George Seifert, who had actually been the 49ers" defensive coordinator during the 1980s. 

Rice was simply 29 in 1991, and also turned in seven Pro Bowl and five All-Pro selections in the next eight seasons. The just year that missed the pro Bowl to be 1997, as soon as he played in just two games due to injuries.

Rice was simply as leading with Young similar to Montana—maybe also a tiny bit better. He caught three touchdown passes in Super bowl XXIX and broke the all-time records for receptions, yards, and also touchdowns throughout Young"s tenure. 

In 1997, plenty of anxiously watched come see how Young would carry out without Rice, arguably the greatest broad receiver the the critical fifty years. Young didn"t disappoint, transforming in his normal brilliant season, top the NFL in completion portion (67.7), yards every attempt (8.5), and also passer rating (104.7).

Like Montana, Young was additionally aided through a great running back.

Ricky Watters was drafted by mountain Francisco in 1992 and earned pro Bowl selections in each of his three seasons with the team. The tied a super Bowl document by scoring three touchdowns in Super key XXIX. 

Other vital offensive players because that Young"s 49ers contained Terrell Owens, who blossomed right into one the the league"s optimal young receivers in 1997 and also 1998, running earlier Garrison Hearst, that rushed because that over 1,000 yards in 1997 and also led the league with 1,570 yards in 1998, and tight finish Brent Jones, who earned agree Bowl selections native 1992 come 1995. 

Like Montana, Young succeeded from a optimal defense, i beg your pardon ranked in the optimal six in the NFL in six of eight seasons. Their typical ranking to be sixth, and also only when did they location in the bottom fifty percent of the league (16th in 1993).


3. Statistics

Montana is usually taken into consideration to be one of the finest statistical quarterbacks in NFL history.

His 92.3 passer rating is saturday in history (among qualifiers) and also he ranked number one ~ above his retirement. He is just one of the least-intercepted quarterbacks in NFL history (2.1 percent), and also posted a career touchdown-to-interception proportion of practically 2-1. That ranks amongst the peak ten quarterbacks in job completions, perfect percentage, happen yards, and also touchdown passes. 

Montana became the first player to success consecutive MVP awards, together he was voted the NFL"s Most an useful Player adhering to the 1989 and 1990 seasons. Montana"s five linked regular season (2) and also Super key MVPs (3) is a document that has because been bound by Peyton Manning.

Montana ranked amongst the top five quarterbacks in the organization in passer rating on nine different occasions, yet posted three periods which stand out among every one of the rest: 1984, 1987, and also 1989.

In 1984, that led the 49ers to 14 wins in 15 starts, throwing because that 28 touchdowns and posting a 102.9 passer rating, the tenth greatest single-season total in NFL history. In 1987, the topped the NFL in completion portion (66.8), touchdowns (31), and passer rating (102.9), while leading the 49ers to wins in 10 that his 11 starts. 

In 1989, he turned in arguably the biggest season through a quarterback in the Super key era. In 13 starts, the threw because that 26 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He damaged the single-season document for passer rating (112.4) and adjusted yards per pass attempt (9.54), and also completed 70.2 percent that his passes, a record in a non-strike season. Montana concluded his record-breaking campaign by to win his 4th Super bowl title and also his 3rd Super bowl MVP award. 


Montana is additionally widely pertained to as the biggest clutch quarterback in NFL history. In 2006, Sports depicted picked him over the legend Unitas as the many clutch quarterback ever.

According to pro Football Reference, he has actually led 31 fourth-quarter comebacks and also 33 game-winning drives (a complete of 34 games), which has five games in the postseason. 

His three most memorable comebacks incorporate the famed drive against Cincinnati in Super bowl XXII, the journey which caused Dwight Clark"s catch in the 1981 conference championship game, and also a 28-point second fifty percent comeback versus the new Orleans Saints in 1980, i m sorry is still the largest regular season comeback in NFL history. 

Montana led a game-winning fourth quarter journey in 17.6 percent the his games, which consists of a 21.7 price in the postseason. This is a greater percentage 보다 all but four hall of fame quarterbacks.

He to be a decent scrambler, rushing for 1,676 yards in his job (3.7 YPC). He scored 20 touchdowns on the ground and also fumbled just 53 times, an impressive complete for a 16-year career. 

As an excellent as Montana"s statistics were, however, Young"s were even better. 

Young is the greatest statistical quarterback in NFL history. 

He"s much better than Dan Marino, Manning, and also yes, Montana. He crack the top twenty quarterbacks in just a single career statistic (passing touchdowns), yet he is hands under the biggest percentage quarterback in the background of the nationwide Football League. 

Besides earning two continuous season Most valuable Player awards, Young hold the NFL career record for passer rating (96.8), including an incredible six passing titles, the many in NFL history.


He has the 2nd best touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL history (2.17). That ranks 5th in completion portion (64.3 percent) and also thirteenth in interception price (2.6 percent). And also he ranks among the finest six in background in all develops of yards per pass attempt, including a spot in ~ the peak of the perform in adjusted yards per pass attempt (7.94). 

According come an to exclude, study conducted by Cold hard Football Facts, yards every attempt (YPA) is the single biggest indicator of success in every one of football, together the team winning the battle in yards per attempt wins roughly 75 percent of its games.

From 1991 to 1998, Young turn in the best eight-year stretch by a quarterback in NFL history.

He topped the league in passer rating 6 times. Indigenous 1991 come 1998, Young"s average passer rating to be 100.9. In fact, from 1991 come 1998, every various other quarterback in the NFL merged to top a 100 passer rating just 4 times—three of them were in 1998. 

He led the league in changed yards per pass attempt 6 times and yards per attempt five times. The led the NFL in perfect percentage 5 times, touchdown passes 4 times, and also interception percentage twice. The led the organization in various statistical category a total of 42 times, i m sorry is more than twice as lot as Montana walk in his entirety career (17). 

According to a study carried out by brand-new QB Rating, Young"s mean season was much more than 1.5 traditional deviations much better than an typical quarterback, the ideal figure by a quarterback in history. 


Young"s 1994 season was, quite simply, one because that the record books. 

He led the 49ers to 13 wins and also 505 clues of offense. He damaged Montana"s single-season documents for passer rating (112.8) and completion percentage (70.3 percent). He tossed 35 touchdowns versus only 10 interceptions, and led the league in every type of yards per attempt. Young deserve his second MVP award in three seasons, and capped off his MVP season with 6 touchdown passes in the supervisor Bowl. 

Young wasn"t simply the biggest passer in the game"s history. He was additionally arguably the biggest running quarterback ever. 

In 1988, that ran 49 yards for a game-winning touchdown versus the Minnesota Vikings, a beat which NFL movies voted in 1994 as the solitary greatest operation by any type of player in the 75-year background of the league.

Young rushed for 4,239 yards in his career and also averaged 5.9 yards every rush. He scored 43 touchdowns, the document for a quarterback, and fumbled 68 times, a wonderful figure because that a to run quarterback.

I think the the term passer rating must be adjusted to quarterback rating, and also it should incorporate rushing touchdowns and fumbles lost. Think about it. 

Who cares if a quarterback throws because that a touchdown or runs for a touchdown? It"s quiet a touchdown.

And by no counting fumbles in the passer rating, quarterbacks who room fumble machines have an unfair benefit in passer rating, which constantly has been and always will it is in the main statistic provided to recognize a quarterback"s success. If a quarterback quietly fumbles ten times and also loses five of them every season, the won"t walk unnoticed, but it also won"t be criticized practically as much as if he tossed five more interceptions per season. 


Let"s look in ~ this past season. Aaron Rodgers cursed a sales in a postseason video game in overtime to lose the game, and also while this play was absolutely criticized, it would certainly be ten times worse if the turnover was an interception. Simply ask Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. 

This isn"t fair. A touchdown is quiet a touchdown and also a turnover is still a turnover. 

I don"t think it"s unfair to provide Young a significant amount of worship for all of his rushing touchdowns. 

Look at his job statistics. He threw because that 232 touchdowns and 107 interceptions. He likewise ran for 43 touchdowns, offering him a 275-107 mark on his career. Then there space his 68 fumbles, and while specific amount of his fumbles shed is not known, let"s speak he lost 50 percent of those fumbles, giving him a full of 34. 

So currently he has collected 275 total touchdowns and 141 turnovers. Tom Brady, that ranks an initial in touchdown-to-interception proportion (225-99), has actually rushed for six touchdowns and fumbled 70 time (approximately 35 turnovers) in his career. Brady"s new numbers would look favor this: 231 touchdowns and also 134 turnovers. 

In this situation, Young i do not care the most successful quarterback in NFL history, in regards to touchdowns developed to turnovers produced. 

Now let"s number out Montana"s job totals.

Add ~ above 20 touchdowns because that Montana, providing him 293 touchdowns and also 139 interceptions. He additionally fumbled 53 times, so let"s include 26 (and a half) turnovers come his stats. His totals incorporate 293 complete touchdowns and 165 turnovers, tho a phenomenal percent (1.78), but significantly reduced than Young"s 1.95-to-1 ratio. 


Young has certainly not received enough credit for his running ability. He isn"t prefer Michael Vick or Vince Young, who likely wouldn"t be able to win gamings without their scrambling. 

He is in elite agency with a select few quarterbacks through both amazing passing and running statistics, and only former Minnesota great Fran Tarkenton comes close to approaching Steve Young in a combination of passing and running. 

In fact, Young"s unprecedented combination of passing and running is so remarkable that it will most likely never again it is in equaled transparent history. 

4. Postseason performance

Montana has actually been even more successful in the postseason than in the regular season. He is probably the biggest postseason quarterback in NFL history. 

Four times he led the 49ers into the super Bowl, and all 4 times castle won. 

In Super bowl XVI, that threw a touchdown and ran for another, outplaying Bengals" quarterback Ken Anderson, the consistent season MVP.

In Super bowl XIX, he threw for 3 touchdowns and ran because that a fourth, outplaying Dolphins" quarterback Dan Marino, the constant season MVP.

In Super bowl XXII, the led a game-winning 92-yard touchdown drive in the final three minutes, outplaying Bengals" quarterback Boomer Esiason, the continual season MVP.

And in 1989, he threw a then-record five touchdown overcome in the greatest blowout in Super key history, outplaying Broncos" quarterback john Elway, that was 2 years removed from one MVP award. 

He deserve MVP honors in three of his four Super Bowls and threw a total of 11 touchdowns versus zero interceptions (127.8 passer rating).


Montana suffered through a terrible three-game big in the postseason (1985-1987) in which the threw zero touchdown passes and posted a 50.5 passer rating. That led the 49ers to exactly three clues in each game, every blowout losses. 

He was even benched in the third quarter the the 49ers" loss come the Vikings in the divisional ring in 1987, one of the biggest upsets in playoff history. That"s right. Joe Montana to be benched in a playoff game, in spite of winning 2 Super Bowls at that allude in his career. 

Joe Cool bounced back, and from 1988 to 1990, Montana was merely unstoppable in the postseason. 

He perfect 70 percent that his passes because that 22 touchdowns and also just 2 interceptions, and also his 126.5 passer rating had a triple-digit passer rating in all eight games. 

His 16 career playoff wins are an NFL record and also his .696 win percentage is one of the finest marks in history. 

Young"s postseason job is a really unusual one.

Officially, he played in 20 playoff games. 

However, four times he played cleanup for Montana at the end of a blowout win. Once, he changed an injured Montana but threw simply a solitary pass. An additional time he missed virtually an entire game after very early injury. And also when Montana to be benched in the 1987 divisional playoffs, Young played simply over a 4 minutes 1 of football.

So, Young play in 13 full playoff gamings as a starter.

He won eight games for a hard .615 winning percentage. ~ consecutive losses to the Cowboys in the NFC championship game in 1992 and also 1993, Young led the 49ers come the at sight Bowl, where he threw a super Bowl record six touchdown overcome in a 49-26 pounding the the mountain Diego Chargers. 


He fail to lead the 49ers earlier to the Super key though, and ultimately struggled versus the green Bay Packers in losses in 1995 and also 1997 (he was injured during the ns in 1996). 

But Young would certainly extract revenge versus Green only in the 1998 wild-card round, cram a game-winning 25-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens in the final seconds, maybe the best moment in wild-card history. 

Young turned in the greatest performance that his life in the supervisor Bowl, yet posted simply a 1-3 record in conference championship games. 

He threw 20 touchdowns and also 13 interceptions in his postseason career, for an above average passer rating of 85.8. However, his 1.58 touchdown-to-interception proportion in the postseason is a far cry indigenous his 2.17 mark in the regular season, and without his six-touchdown power in the at sight Bowl, that would have thrown simply 14 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. 

Conclusion: 

If one have the right to state the case that Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback ever, why can"t one contact Steve Young the greatest quarterback ever? 

Manning is always considered to be the game"s ideal regular season quarterback in history, however Steve Young is also greater. And also while Manning is a an excellent postseason quarterback, Young is better. For this reason why hasn"t Steve Young ever before been considered the ideal quarterback ever? 

I have actually heard disagreements for Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, rose oil Graham, Sammy Baugh, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Bart Starr, Dan Marino, john Elway, and Brett Favre. 

But never Steve Young.

I would certainly pick Young as my quarterback over all of these other quarterbacks, other than for one.


That"s Joe Montana.

There"s simply no method to deny it. Montana is the biggest quarterback in NFL history. 

He is one of two quarterbacks to win 4 Super Bowls and also he is the just with 3 Super key MVPs. He is most likely the biggest clutch quarterback, as well as one the the game"s ideal postseason performers, and also he led 2 of the ten greatest game-winning cd driver in NFL history. 

He is just one of six quarterbacks to win multiple awards, and according to brand-new QB Rating, his median season is just a portion behind Young"s, making that arguably the 2nd greatest continual season quarterback in history. 

Montana overcame a possibly career-ending injury in 1986 to enjoy a 16-year career, much longer than Steve Young. The ranks greater than Young in career totals of practically every solitary statistical category. 

Although Young beats Montana in most percentages (completion percentage, yards per attempt, passer rating), the difference between their number is not a considerable amount, and it becomes also less after the differences in periods are factored in. In fact, return Young broke Montana"s single-season documents for completion percentage and also passer rating, Montana"s totals room actually greater when adjusting to the difference in eras. 

If one could include four much more seasons come Young"s career, he would have had about 100 an ext touchdown passes and probably another MVP. He can even have had actually a 2nd Super key title. In fact, it"s probably those 4 seasons that are protecting against Young from surpassing Montana together the best quarterback in history. 


But there"s another thing we must remember: when Young took over for Montana, he was usually working through the team the Bill Walsh and Joe Montana had actually helped come create.

The 49ers had been winners because that years and their immediate success with Young was expected. After ~ all, throughout the 4 years that rode the bench, Young had learned the quarterback place from a mix of Walsh"s coaching and from the town hall Montana play.

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Montana, however, join a franchise which had suffered v a 2-14 season in 1979 and also led them to a Super key title simply two year later. He proficient success after ~ leaving the 49ers, top the Kansas City Chiefs to the AFC championship game in 1993. Not included the nine-game to win season of 1982, he never ever played a season in i beg your pardon his team missed the postseason.

Joe Montana simply had actually ice water in his veins, specifically in the postseason. 

If you need a quarterback to rotate a losing franchise into a winner, Montana is her man. If you require a quarterback to lead a 92-yard video game winning journey in the last minutes that a game, Montana is her man. And if you need a quarterback to consistently take her team deep into the postseason and win multiple at sight Bowls, Montana is your man.