Joe Montana

Jimmy Garoppolo finds inspiration not pressure in 49ers' history

Jimmy Garoppolo finds inspiration not pressure in 49ers' history

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.

"It pushes you," Garoppolo told ESPN's Nick Wagoner. "It sets the standard for quarterback play. And the tradition that they've set here with the Niners, it's incredible."

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.

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Garoppolo will face a stiff test Sunday when the 49ers meet the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Levi's Stadium.

If Jimmy G can outduel Aaron Rodgers to send the 49ers to Miami, maybe then he'll get the respect his teammates feel he deserves.

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.

How Kyle Shanahan matched Bill Walsh in first three seasons with 49ers

How Kyle Shanahan matched Bill Walsh in first three seasons with 49ers

SANTA CLARA -- Kyle Shanahan inherited a dilapidated roster when he agreed to lead the rebuilding effort as 49ers head coach in 2017.

Comparisons were immediately drawn to Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh, who entered into the same challenge with the 49ers in 1979.

It took Walsh only three years to reach the pinnacle of the NFL world. And here is Shanahan in Year 3 keeping pace with Walsh’s amazing achievement.

Walsh compiled a 24-27 record in his first three seasons as head coach of the 49ers. After winning just eight games in his first two seasons at the helm, Walsh’s team went 13-3 in the regular season and 3-0 in the postseason to win Super Bowl XVI.

After the 49ers’ 27-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs on Saturday, Shanahan’s overall record now stands at 24-25, as discussed on The 49ers Insiders Podcast.

The 49ers will play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium with a trip to Miami for Super Bowl 54 on the line.

Like in Walsh’s third season, the 49ers under Shanahan went 13-3 in the regular season, won the NFC West and earned homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

“We knew coming into the season that we were going to have a chance to compete in every game,” Shanahan said. “(I) didn't really look at it much past that. Even when we were 8-0, that's all you look at. We thought we could compete in every game and we had won them up to that. We were like that all the way to the end.”

The Shanahan tenure could not have started in more agonizing fashion.

The 49ers began the 2017 season with nine consecutive losses, including a record five consecutive defeats by three points or fewer to the Seattle Seahawks, the L.A. Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts and Washington.

Joe Montana, a third-round draft pick in 1979, started a combined eight games in 1979 and ’80 before playing in every game in 1981.

Jimmy Garoppolo, acquired in a midseason trade in 2017, started eight games in ’17 and ’18. Garoppolo has started every game for the 49ers this season.

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Shanahan and the 49ers are not finished this season, so he is reluctant to reflect on how far the 49ers have come in such a relatively short period of time. But he said he granted himself some a short period of time two weeks ago for reflection.

“Once we got into the playoffs and got that bye week, I did personally sit back for a day and think about the season,” Shanahan said. “It was great how we got home-field advantage. Once you get that, that is completely over. All you think about is this game. We just got that done. Not trying to go celebrate anything.

"We celebrated winning the division in the bye week, which was nice.”

 

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday)

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.

Roger Goodell, Joe Montana, Joey Bosa among 49ers-Vikings spectators

Roger Goodell, Joe Montana, Joey Bosa among 49ers-Vikings spectators

The stars are out in Santa Clara for Saturday’s divisional-round playoff clash between the 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is in attendance for two-time Super Bowl champion Jimmy Garoppolo’s first career playoff start.

49ers defensive end Nick Bosa had the whole family in attendance for his first playoff appearance, including brother and Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa.

To no one's surprise, 49ers legends of years past were spotted in Santa Clara, including Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Jerry Rice.

Former San Francisco Giants slugger and Bay Area native Barry Bonds made the trip to Levi's as well.

But it wasn't all just athletes. Actors Dave Franco and Christopher Mintz-Plasse were there for the 49ers-Vikings clash, as was rapper Young MC.

[RELATED: Ford, Thielen both active for 49ers vs. Vikings]

With all of the stars in the crowd, the 49ers are hoping to put on a show.