Just around every solitary football fan has actually seen a perform ranking the ten best quarterbacks to ever play the game. 

Joe Montana usually occupies the height spot on the list, and if he"s no ranked numero uno, he"ll be second. 

Steve Young will certainly usually present up near the bottom that the list, if he provides it in ~ all.

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I"ve checked out him ranked as high together fourth, and that was by me in an article around the ten greatest quarterbacks in history a year and a half ago. I"ve additionally seen lists i m sorry don"t even include him amongst the peak ten and some list which point out him in the high teens, i m sorry is in reality comical.


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

And if Montana is not No. 1, it"s most likely Johnny Unitas. Certainly not Steve Young.

How could Montana"s successor be better than him? Did that win 4 Super key titles? No, the did not. He won one. If this definitely gives Montana a sizable benefit over Young, many historians fail to also take the moment to very closely examine Young"s career against Montana.


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They should. A closer look can reveal the unthinkable. 

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

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

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

Since Montana is considered to it is in the king, we"ll look at his numbers first, and if we have time, we"ll study Young second. 

1. Longevity

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

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

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

The affect from the hit, and also multiple elbow injuries, brought about Montana to miss every begin in 1991 and 1992, throughout which he shed his starting job to Steve Young. Prior to the 1993 season, Montana to be traded come the Kansas City Chiefs, wherein he play well, yet missed 7 starts as result of injuries end the next two seasons. 


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

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

Steve Young"s career is among the an ext unusual in the NFL history. 

He began out v the Los Angeles to express of the United states Football League yet joined the Tampa bay Buccaneers in the NFL ~ the USFL went bankrupt. Young played two periods for the Tampa just Buccaneers, winning simply 3 the 19 starts. However, the Bucs were clearly the worst team in the NFL, and also Young achieved tiny success completing overcome to receivers Gerald Carter and Phil Freeman.

49ers" head coach and offensive mastermind invoice Walsh preferred what he witnessed in Young and also traded two draft choose to get Young before the 1987 season.

Over the next 4 seasons, Young played whenever Montana to be injured, do a complete of just 10 starts. That was quickly the best backup quarterback in the NFL, throwing because that a combined total of 23 touchdowns and six interceptions, including ten touchdowns and also zero interceptions in 1987.

Young finally ended up being a permanent starter prior to the 1991 season, in ~ the age of 30, however suffered a minor knee injury in midseason and missed five starts. 

Over the next seven seasons, Young to let go 11 games: none native 1992 come 1994, 5 in 1995, four in 1996, one in 1997, and also one in 1998. Young missed a full of 17 gamings in eight seasons. He played in 111 the a feasible 128 gamings as the 49ers" beginning quarterback. 


Although Young earned a call for being somewhat injury-prone (rightfully so, due to the 7 concussions he experienced throughout his career), that still played in 87 percent of games—much greater than Montana (74 percent). However, Montana do 21 an ext starts than Young during his career.

2. Sustaining Cast

When Montana join the 49ers in 1979, they were a pitiful 2-14 team. Two years later, they were Super key champions. Obviously, this couldn"t have been all since of Montana.

So how did they do it?

The most crucial contributor come Montana"s success to be head coach invoice Walsh, an attack mastermind who aided to perfect the West shore offense. 

Walsh drafted Montana in the third round that the 1979 draft and also immediately realized the potential in the previous Notre Dame quarterback, implementing him together a permanent starter before the begin of the 1981 season. Walsh is taken into consideration to be one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, and his legendary coaching tree includes a complete of 31 coaches that have showed up in 15 super Bowls, win nine. 

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

Clark arised the following year together a solid receiver and would go on come a successful nine-year career. He earned two Pro key selections and also was named an All-Pro after top the organization in receptions in the strike-shortened season of 1982. 

In 1981, the 49ers drafted USC safety Ronnie Lott through the eighth in its entirety pick in the draft.

Lott immediately became a superstar and also his influence on the defense to be priceless. Lott played with the 49ers because that a complete of 10 seasons, earning an significant nine agree Bowl selections and five All-Pro honors. The is widely related to as one of the greatest protective players in NFL history, well known both because that his coverage abilities and also his knack because that delivering powerful hits. 


In 1985, the 49ers drafted recipient Jerry Rice, who, at training camp, boldly stated his desire to end up being the all-time leading receiver.

Rice came to be an immediate threat, earning a pro Bowl berth and also an All-Pro an option in all five of his seasons with Montana. Rice was even an ext incredible in the postseason, catching 18 passes because that 363 yards and also four touchdowns in 2 Super bowl victories through Montana. 

Other significant offensive dangers for Montana"s 49ers contained receiver man Taylor, a two-time agree Bowler and the recipient of the many famous catch in 49ers" Super bowl history, and versatile running ago Roger Craig, a four-time agree Bowler and also the very first running ago to top 1,000 yards rushing and also receiving in the very same season. 

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

They ranked 23rd in points enabled in the strike-shortened season of 1982 yet ranked in the top 4 in every other season other than for 1988, once they perfect eighth. In their four Super key championship seasons they ranked second, first, eighth, and third. Not included 1982, the 49ers" mean defense ranked 3rd in the 28-team league.

In fact, it might be suggested that the 49ers" defense to be even far better than their offense, i m sorry ranked an mean of 4th in the league throughout those eight seasons.

When Young take it over together the beginning quarterback in 1991, the 49ers were most likely the finest team in the NFL. They had won the Super key in 1988 and also 1989, and in a search for the first-ever Super key three-peat, shed to the ultimate Super bowl champion brand-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 just 29 in 1991, and turned in seven Pro Bowl and also five All-Pro selections in the following eight seasons. The only year the missed the agree Bowl was 1997, as soon as he played in simply two games because of injuries.

Rice was just as leading with Young as with Montana—maybe even a little bit better. He captured three touchdown overcome in Super bowl XXIX and broke the all-time records for receptions, yards, and touchdowns throughout Young"s tenure. 

In 1997, countless anxiously watched to see exactly how Young would execute without Rice, maybe the greatest broad receiver that the last fifty years. Young didn"t disappoint, turning in his usual brilliant season, leading the NFL in completion percentage (67.7), yards every attempt (8.5), and passer rating (104.7).

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

Ricky Watters to be drafted by mountain Francisco in 1992 and also earned pro Bowl selections in each of his three seasons with the team. The tied a super Bowl record by scoring three touchdowns in Super bowl XXIX. 

Other an essential offensive players because that Young"s 49ers contained Terrell Owens, who blossomed into one the the league"s peak young receivers in 1997 and 1998, running ago Garrison Hearst, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in 1997 and also led the organization with 1,570 yards in 1998, and also tight finish Brent Jones, that earned pro Bowl selections from 1992 to 1995. 

Like Montana, Young thrived from a height defense, which ranked in the optimal six in the NFL in six of eight seasons. Their typical ranking was sixth, and only when did they location in the bottom half of the organization (16th in 1993).


3. Statistics

Montana is usually thought about to be among the best statistical quarterbacks in NFL history.

His 92.3 passer rating is seventh in background (among qualifiers) and he ranked number one top top his retirement. He is one of the least-intercepted quarterbacks in NFL background (2.1 percent), and posted a job touchdown-to-interception proportion of practically 2-1. He ranks amongst the top ten quarterbacks in job completions, completion percentage, passing yards, and touchdown passes. 

Montana came to be the very first player to victory consecutive MVP awards, together he to be voted the NFL"s Most beneficial Player adhering to the 1989 and 1990 seasons. Montana"s five an unified regular season (2) and Super bowl MVPs (3) is a record that has because been bound by Peyton Manning.

Montana ranked among the top 5 quarterbacks in the league in passer rating top top nine different occasions, but posted three seasons which stand the end among all 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 also posting a 102.9 passer rating, the tenth highest single-season complete in NFL history. In 1987, he topped the NFL in completion percent (66.8), touchdowns (31), and passer rating (102.9), while leading the 49ers to wins in 10 the his 11 starts. 

In 1989, he turned in maybe the best season by a quarterback in the Super key era. In 13 starts, he threw for 26 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He damaged the single-season document for passer rating (112.4) and readjusted yards per happen attempt (9.54), and completed 70.2 percent of his passes, a record in a non-strike season. Montana break up his record-breaking project by winning his fourth Super key title and his third Super key MVP award. 


Montana is likewise widely pertained to as the best clutch quarterback in NFL history. In 2006, Sports illustrated picked him end the legend Unitas as the many clutch quarterback ever.

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

His three many memorable comebacks include the famed drive against Cincinnati in Super key XXII, the drive which caused Dwight Clark"s catch in the 1981 conference championship game, and a 28-point second half comeback against the new Orleans Saints in 1980, i m sorry is quiet the largest constant season comeback in NFL history. 

Montana led a game-winning 4th quarter journey in 17.6 percent of his games, which contains a 21.7 rate in the postseason. This is a greater percentage 보다 all yet four room of call quarterbacks.

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

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

Young is the best statistical quarterback in NFL history. 

He"s better than Dan Marino, Manning, and yes, Montana. He crack the optimal twenty quarterbacks in just a single career statistic (passing touchdowns), but he is hands down the best percentage quarterback in the history of the nationwide Football League. 

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


He has actually the 2nd best touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL history (2.17). The ranks 5th in completion percent (64.3 percent) and also thirteenth in interception price (2.6 percent). And he ranks among the best six in history in all creates of yards per pass attempt, including a spot in ~ the optimal of the list in readjusted yards per happen attempt (7.94). 

According to an exclude, study carried out by Cold hard Football Facts, yards per attempt (YPA) is the single biggest indicator that success in every one of football, as the team winning the fight in yards per attempt wins around 75 percent of its games.

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

He topped the league in passer rating six times. From 1991 come 1998, Young"s median passer rating to be 100.9. In fact, indigenous 1991 come 1998, every various other quarterback in the NFL linked to peak a 100 passer rating just 4 times—three that them to be in 1998. 

He led the league in readjusted yards per happen attempt six times and yards per attempt 5 times. He led the NFL in completion percentage five times, touchdown passes 4 times, and also interception percentage twice. That led the league in miscellaneous statistical categories a full of 42 times, which is more than double as much as Montana go in his entirety career (17). 

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


Young"s 1994 season was, rather simply, one for the record books. 

He led the 49ers come 13 wins and also 505 point out of offense. He broke 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 organization in every type of yards every attempt. Young earned his second MVP compensation in 3 seasons, and also capped off his MVP season with six touchdown overcome in the at sight Bowl. 

Young wasn"t just the greatest passer in the game"s history. The was also arguably the greatest running quarterback ever. 

In 1988, that ran 49 yards because that a game-winning touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings, a pat which NFL films voted in 1994 as the solitary greatest operation by any player in the 75-year history of the league.

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

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

Who care if a quarterback throws because that a touchdown or runs because that a touchdown? It"s tho a touchdown.

And by no counting fumbles in the passer rating, quarterbacks who are fumble machines have an unfair advantage 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 quiet fumbles ten times and loses five of them each season, the won"t walk unnoticed, yet it likewise won"t be criticized practically as lot as if the tossed five more interceptions every season. 


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

This isn"t fair. A touchdown is tho a touchdown and also a sales is tho a turnover. 

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

Look in ~ his career statistics. That threw because that 232 touchdowns and 107 interceptions. He likewise ran because that 43 touchdowns, offering him a 275-107 mark on his career. Climate there room his 68 fumbles, and also while an exact amount that his fumbles shed is not known, let"s speak he shed 50 percent of those fumbles, providing him a total of 34. 

So currently he has built up 275 full touchdowns and 141 turnovers. Tom Brady, that ranks very first in touchdown-to-interception ratio (225-99), has rushed for six touchdowns and fumbled 70 times (approximately 35 turnovers) in his career. Brady"s new numbers would look choose this: 231 touchdowns and 134 turnovers. 

In this situation, Young becomes the many successful quarterback in NFL history, in regards to touchdowns produced to turnovers produced. 

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

Add ~ above 20 touchdowns for Montana, offering him 293 touchdowns and 139 interceptions. He likewise fumbled 53 times, therefore let"s add 26 (and a half) turnovers to his stats. His totals include 293 complete touchdowns and also 165 turnovers, quiet a phenomenal percentage (1.78), but significantly reduced than Young"s 1.95-to-1 ratio. 


Young has definitely not received sufficient credit for his to run ability. The isn"t like Michael Vick or Vince Young, who most likely wouldn"t be able to win games without your scrambling. 

He is in elite firm with a select couple of quarterbacks through both exceptional passing and running statistics, and only previous Minnesota an excellent Fran Tarkenton come close to approaching Steve Young in a mix of passing and also running. 

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

4. Postseason performance

Montana has actually been even much more successful in the postseason 보다 in the constant season. That is probably the best postseason quarterback in NFL history. 

Four times he led the 49ers right into the at sight Bowl, and also all 4 times lock won. 

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

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

In Super bowl XXII, he led a game-winning 92-yard touchdown journey in the last three minutes, outplaying Bengals" quarterback Boomer Esiason, the constant season MVP.

And in 1989, that threw a then-record five touchdown overcome in the biggest blowout in Super bowl history, outplaying Broncos" quarterback man Elway, that was 2 years removed from an MVP award. 

He deserve MVP honors in 3 of his 4 Super Bowls and also threw a complete of 11 touchdowns versus zero interceptions (127.8 passer rating).


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

He was also benched in the third quarter of the 49ers" loss come the Vikings in the divisional ring in 1987, among the greatest upsets in playoff history. That"s right. Joe Montana was benched in a playoff game, despite winning 2 Super Bowls at that suggest in his career. 

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

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

His 16 job playoff wins space an NFL record and his .696 win percentage is among the finest marks in history. 

Young"s postseason career is a very unusual one.

Officially, he played in 20 playoff games. 

However, 4 times he play cleanup for Montana in ~ the finish of a blowout win. Once, he changed an hurt Montana yet threw just a solitary pass. Another time that missed virtually an entire game after very early injury. And when Montana to be benched in the 1987 divisional playoffs, Young played simply over a 4 minutes 1 of football.

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

He winner eight gamings for a heavy .615 to win percentage. ~ consecutive losses to the Cowboys in the NFC championship video game in 1992 and 1993, Young led the 49ers come the at sight Bowl, whereby he threw a at sight Bowl document six touchdown passes in a 49-26 pounding the the san Diego Chargers. 


He failure to command the 49ers ago to the Super key though, and also ultimately struggled versus the eco-friendly Bay Packers in losses in 1995 and also 1997 (he to be injured during the lose in 1996). 

But Young would certainly extract revenge against Green only in the 1998 wild-card round, throwing a game-winning 25-yard touchdown happen to Terrell Owens in the final seconds, arguably the greatest moment in wild-card history. 

Young turned in the biggest performance of his life in the at sight Bowl, yet posted just a 1-3 document in conference championship games. 

He threw 20 touchdowns and also 13 interceptions in his postseason career, for an above average passer rating that 85.8. However, his 1.58 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the postseason is a much cry indigenous his 2.17 note in the consistent season, and also without his six-touchdown power in the supervisor Bowl, the would have actually thrown just 14 touchdowns versus 13 interceptions. 

Conclusion: 

If one deserve to state the claim that Peyton Manning is the biggest quarterback ever, why can"t one call Steve Young the biggest quarterback ever? 

Manning is constantly considered to be the game"s best regular season quarterback in history, yet Steve Young is even greater. And while Manning is a good postseason quarterback, Young is better. So why hasn"t Steve Young ever been thought about the ideal quarterback ever? 

I have actually heard debates 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 pick Young as my quarterback over all of these other quarterbacks, other than for one.


That"s Joe Montana.

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

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

He is just one of six quarterbacks to victory multiple awards, and also according to new QB Rating, his average season is simply a portion behind Young"s, making the arguably the 2nd greatest regular season quarterback in history. 

Montana overcame a potentially career-ending injury in 1986 to gain a 16-year career, longer than Steve Young. He ranks greater than Young in career totals of nearly every solitary statistical category. 

Although Young win Montana in most percentages (completion percentage, yards per attempt, passer rating), the difference between their numbers is not a considerable amount, and also it becomes also less ~ the differences in periods are factored in. In fact, although Young damaged Montana"s single-season records for completion percentage and also passer rating, Montana"s totals space actually higher when adjusting to the difference in eras. 

If one could add four much more seasons to Young"s career, that would have actually had about 100 much more touchdown passes and probably one more MVP. He could even have had a second Super bowl title. In fact, it"s most likely those 4 seasons that are protecting against Young indigenous surpassing Montana as the biggest quarterback in history. 


But there"s an additional thing we must remember: as soon as Young took over for Montana, that was usually working with the team that Bill Walsh and also Joe Montana had helped to create.

The 49ers had been winners for years and their instant success through Young was expected. After all, during the 4 years the rode the bench, Young had actually learned the quarterback position from a combination of Walsh"s coaching and from the town hall Montana play.

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Montana, however, joined a franchise which had suffered v a 2-14 season in 1979 and also led them come a Super key title simply two years later. He competent success after leaving the 49ers, leading the Kansas City Chiefs to the AFC championship game in 1993. Not included the nine-game win season the 1982, he never played a season in i m sorry his team let go the postseason.

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

If you need a quarterback to revolve a losing franchise into a winner, Montana is her man. If you need a quarterback to command a 92-yard game winning drive in the final minutes that a game, Montana is your man. And also if you require a quarterback to repeatedly take her team deep into the postseason and win multiple super Bowls, Montana is her man.