Jimmy Garoppolo has been taking incoming fire all season.
Hailed as the 49ers' weak link from Day 1, Garoppolo has been talked about like the next version of Trent Dilfer, riding a dominant defense to glory. Even after Garoppolo made clutch plays to beat the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks, the doubters kept coming.
After only throwing the ball eight times in the 49ers' NFC Championship Game win over the Green Bay Packers, the detractors are getting louder again, but don't count 49ers legend Joe Montana among them.
"He's doing exactly what he needs to do," Montana said Friday on KNBR's "Murph and Mac." "And at some point and time, they're going to have to lean on him, like they did in the games that you mentioned (wins over Saints and Seahawks), and he's come through in that part, so I'm not concerned about it.
"I remember, there'd be a stretch sometimes where if I went 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 one?
"It's about winning and losing in that league, and it's hard to win," Montana continued. "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've got a pretty dang good one."
The 49ers gashed the Packers and Minnesota Vikings in the running game, so there was no need for Jimmy G to air it out.
But if the 49ers need QB1 to make plays in Super Bowl 54 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Montana knows Garoppolo can do what is necessary.
"Here's my scariest thought: Do you make him [stay] in the pocket, or do you try to put pressure and get him out of there? He's dangerous both places, so it's kind of scary."
[RELATED: Sherman doubts he'll visit White House if 49ers win SB]
With reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes on the opposite side in Miami, chances are Garoppolo will be called on to make plays if the 49ers are to win their sixth Lombardi Trophy.
Then again, if the 49ers' defense dominates the way it has all season, Garoppolo might not be asked to do much.
Hey, they still gave Dilfer a ring.
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 6:00 p.m. Friday).