Joe Montana. Steve Young. Jimmy Garoppolo?
The 49ers have a rich and storied franchise history. Montana led the scarlet and gold to four Super Bowl titles, holding the all-time record for most Super Bowl passes without an interception (122) and passer rating 127.8. Young took over and led the Niners to a win in Super Bowl XXIX.
Now, Garoppolo has his chance to begin his legacy with the storied franchise. In his first fully healthy season, the Eastern Illinois product helped lead the 49ers to a 13-3 record and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. After a division-round win over the Minnesota Vikings, Garoppolo has the 49ers one win away from a berth in Super Bowl LIV and the ability to join Montana, Young and Colin Kaepernick as quarterbacks to lead the Niners to the biggest games.
For some, the weight of franchise history would bring unbearable pressure and become a hindrance. Garoppolo sees it differently, though.
Ever since head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch took over, the 49ers have re-established the connection to their glory years, using stories and advice from Young, Jerry Rice and others to inspire and motivate the next era of 49ers.
Garoppolo will face a stiff test Sunday when the 49ers meet the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Levi's Stadium.
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday)
Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 5:30 p.m.