Just about every single football fan has actually 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 not ranked numero uno, he"ll it is in second. 

Steve Young will usually display up near the bottom the the list, if he renders it in ~ all.

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I"ve seen him ranked as high together fourth, and that to be by me in an article around the ten biggest quarterbacks in background a year and also a half ago. I"ve likewise seen lists i beg your pardon don"t even incorporate him amongst the optimal ten and also some list which mention him in the high teens, i beg your pardon is actually comical.


However, Joe Montana is therefore popular, therefore legendary, so revered, that he has practically been universally accepted as the biggest quarterback ever. 

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

How can Montana"s successor be far better than him? Did the win 4 Super bowl titles? No, that did not. He won one. If this absolutely gives Montana a sizable advantage over Young, plenty of historians failure to also take the time to carefully examine Young"s career against Montana.


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They should. A closer look might reveal the unthinkable. 

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

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

Longevity Supporting actors on both offense and defense Statistics  Postseason performance

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

1. Longevity

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

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

From 1987 to 1990, Montana missed eight games, however in the 1990 conference championship game, Montana endured a struggle from Giants" protective end Leonard Marshall.

The affect from the hit, and also multiple elbow injuries, caused Montana to miss every start in 1991 and also 1992, throughout which he lost his beginning job come Steve Young. Prior to the 1993 season, Montana to be traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he play well, yet missed seven starts due to injuries over the next two seasons. 


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

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

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

He began out v the Los Angeles refer of the United says Football League yet joined the Tampa just Buccaneers in the NFL after ~ the USFL went bankrupt. Young play two seasons for the Tampa only Buccaneers, winning just 3 that 19 starts. However, the Bucs were clearly the worst team in the NFL, and also Young achieved small success completing passes to receivers Gerald Carter and also Phil Freeman.

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

Over the next 4 seasons, Young play whenever Montana was injured, making a total of just 10 starts. That was quickly the best back-up quarterback in the NFL, throwing because that a linked total that 23 touchdowns and also six interceptions, including 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 five starts. 

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


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

2. Supporting Cast

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

So how did they carry out it?

The most crucial contributor to Montana"s success was head coach invoice Walsh, an offensive mastermind who assisted 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 as a full time starter before the start of the 1981 season. Walsh is thought about to be among the biggest coaches in NFL history, and also his legend coaching tree contains a total of 31 coaches who have showed up in 15 super Bowls, winning nine. 

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

Clark arised the next year as a solid receiver and would go on come a successful nine-year career. He earned 2 Pro bowl selections and was named an All-Pro after top the league in receptions in the strike-shortened season of 1982. 

In 1981, the 49ers drafted USC safety and security Ronnie Lott with the eighth all at once pick in the draft.

Lott instantly became a superstar and his influence on the defense to be priceless. Lott played v the 49ers for a total of 10 seasons, earning an incredible nine agree Bowl selections and also five All-Pro honors. That is widely regarded as among the greatest protective players in NFL history, well known both for his coverage abilities and his knack because that delivering an effective hits. 


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

Rice came to be an instant threat, earning a pro Bowl berth and also an All-Pro selection in all 5 of his periods with Montana. Rice to be even more incredible in the postseason, catching 18 passes for 363 yards and four touchdowns in 2 Super key victories through Montana. 

Other noteworthy offensive risks for Montana"s 49ers consisted of receiver john Taylor, a two-time pro Bowler and also the receiver of the most famous capture in 49ers" Super key history, and also versatile running earlier Roger Craig, a four-time pro Bowler and the an initial running back to optimal 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the very same season. 

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

They ranked 23rd in points permitted in the strike-shortened season that 1982 but ranked in the top 4 in every other season except for 1988, when they finished eighth. In their four Super bowl championship periods they ranked second, first, eighth, and third. Not included 1982, the 49ers" mean defense ranked third in the 28-team league.

In fact, it can be argued that the 49ers" defense to be even better than your offense, i m sorry ranked an average of fourth in the league throughout those eight seasons.

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


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

Rice was simply 29 in 1991, and turned in 7 Pro Bowl and also five All-Pro selections in the next eight seasons. The just year the missed the pro Bowl was 1997, as soon as he played in just two games due to injuries.

Rice was simply as leading with Young just like Montana—maybe also a little bit better. He captured three touchdown passes in Super key XXIX and also broke the all-time documents for receptions, yards, and also touchdowns during Young"s tenure. 

In 1997, countless anxiously watched come see just how Young would carry out without Rice, may be the greatest broad receiver the the last fifty years. Young didn"t disappoint, turning in his usual brilliant season, top the NFL in completion percentage (67.7), yards every attempt (8.5), and passer rating (104.7).

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

Ricky Watters was drafted by san Francisco in 1992 and earned pro Bowl selections in each of his three periods with the team. The tied a super Bowl record by scoring three touchdowns in Super bowl XXIX. 

Other key offensive players for Young"s 49ers included Terrell Owens, who blossomed into one that the league"s optimal young receivers in 1997 and 1998, running ago Garrison Hearst, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in 1997 and also led the league with 1,570 yards in 1998, and also tight end Brent Jones, who earned agree Bowl selections indigenous 1992 to 1995. 

Like Montana, Young prospered from a optimal defense, i beg your pardon ranked in the height six in the NFL in six of eight seasons. Their median ranking was sixth, and also only once did they rank in the bottom half of the league (16th in 1993).


3. Statistics

Montana is usually thought about to be one of the finest statistical quarterbacks in NFL history.

His 92.3 passer rating is seventh in background (among qualifiers) and also he ranked number one top top his retirement. He is just one of the least-intercepted quarterbacks in NFL history (2.1 percent), and posted a career touchdown-to-interception ratio of nearly 2-1. The ranks among the optimal ten quarterbacks in career completions, perfect percentage, happen yards, and touchdown passes. 

Montana came to be the an initial player to win consecutive MVP awards, together he to be voted the NFL"s Most an important Player following the 1989 and 1990 seasons. Montana"s five combined regular season (2) and Super key MVPs (3) is a record that has due to the fact that been tied by Peyton Manning.

Montana ranked among the top five quarterbacks in the league in passer rating on nine different occasions, yet posted three seasons which stand out among all of the rest: 1984, 1987, and 1989.

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

In 1989, that turned in may be the greatest season through a quarterback in the Super key era. In 13 starts, the threw for 26 touchdowns and also just eight interceptions. He broke the single-season record 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 concluded his record-breaking campaign by to win his fourth Super key title and his third Super key MVP award. 


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

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

His three many memorable comebacks encompass the renowned drive versus Cincinnati in Super key XXII, the drive which led to Dwight Clark"s record in the 1981 conference championship game, and also a 28-point second fifty percent comeback against the brand-new Orleans Saints in 1980, i m sorry is quiet the largest regular season comeback in NFL history. 

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

He was a decent scrambler, rushing for 1,676 yards in his career (3.7 YPC). He score 20 touchdowns top top the ground and fumbled simply 53 times, an impressive full for a 16-year career. 

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

Young is the greatest statistical quarterback in NFL history. 

He"s far better than Dan Marino, Manning, and yes, Montana. He cracks the top twenty quarterbacks in simply a single career statistic (passing touchdowns), yet he is hands under the best percentage quarterback in the background of the national Football League. 

Besides earning two consistent season Most an important Player awards, Young stop the NFL career document for passer rating (96.8), including an incredible 6 passing titles, the many in NFL history.


He has the second best touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL history (2.17). The ranks fifth in completion portion (64.3 percent) and thirteenth in interception price (2.6 percent). And he ranks amongst the ideal six in background in all forms of yards per pass attempt, consisting of a spot in ~ the top of the perform in readjusted yards per pass attempt (7.94). 

According come an to exclude, study carried out by Cold difficult Football Facts, yards per attempt (YPA) is the solitary biggest indicator that success in every one of football, together the team win the fight in yards per attempt wins approximately 75 percent of its games.

From 1991 to 1998, Young turned in the biggest eight-year stretch through a quarterback in NFL history.

He topped the league in passer rating 6 times. Native 1991 come 1998, Young"s median passer rating was 100.9. In fact, from 1991 to 1998, every various other quarterback in the NFL merged to peak a 100 passer rating just 4 times—three that them to be in 1998. 

He led the league in adjusted yards per pass attempt 6 times and also yards per attempt 5 times. He led the NFL in completion percentage five times, touchdown passes 4 times, and interception percent twice. That led the organization in assorted statistical categories a complete of 42 times, i m sorry is much more than twice as lot as Montana go in his entirety career (17). 

According come a study performed by new QB Rating, Young"s median season was an ext than 1.5 standard deviations far better than an mean quarterback, the finest figure by 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 records for passer rating (112.8) and also completion percent (70.3 percent). That tossed 35 touchdowns against only 10 interceptions, and also led the league in every form of yards every attempt. Young earn his second MVP award in three seasons, and capped turn off his MVP season with 6 touchdown overcome in the super Bowl. 

Young wasn"t simply the biggest passer in the game"s history. That 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 play which NFL films voted in 1994 as the single greatest run by any kind of player in the 75-year background of the league.

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

I think the the ax passer rating should be adjusted to quarterback rating, and it should include rushing touchdowns and fumbles lost. Think around it. 

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

And by no counting fumbles in the passer rating, quarterbacks who space fumble machines have an unfair benefit in passer rating, which always has been and constantly will be the major statistic supplied to determine a quarterback"s success. If a quarterback quietly fumbles ten times and also loses 5 of them every season, the won"t go unnoticed, but it additionally won"t it is in criticized almost as lot as if that tossed five much more interceptions per season. 


Let"s look in ~ this past season. Aaron Rodgers committed a turnover in a postseason video game in overtime to shed the game, and while this play was absolutely criticized, it would certainly 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 still a touchdown and also a turnover is still a turnover. 

I don"t think it"s unfair to provide Young a incredible amount of praise for every one of his rushing touchdowns. 

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

So now he has built up 275 total touchdowns and 141 turnovers. Tom Brady, that ranks an initial in touchdown-to-interception ratio (225-99), has actually rushed for six touchdowns and fumbled 70 times (approximately 35 turnovers) in his career. Brady"s brand-new numbers would certainly look prefer this: 231 touchdowns and 134 turnovers. 

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

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

Add ~ above 20 touchdowns for Montana, giving him 293 touchdowns and also 139 interceptions. He additionally fumbled 53 times, for this reason let"s include 26 (and a half) turnovers to his stats. His totals encompass 293 full touchdowns and also 165 turnovers, still a phenomenal portion (1.78), however significantly reduced than Young"s 1.95-to-1 ratio. 


Young has absolutely not received enough credit because that his running ability. He isn"t like Michael Vick or Vince Young, who likely wouldn"t have the ability to win gamings without your scrambling. 

He is in elite agency with a select few quarterbacks v both remarkable passing and also running statistics, and only previous Minnesota good Fran Tarkenton comes close to approaching Steve Young in a mix of passing and running. 

In fact, Young"s unprecedented mix of passing and running is so incredible that the will likely never again be equaled transparent history. 

4. Postseason performance

Montana has actually been even much more successful in the postseason 보다 in the regular season. The is more than likely the biggest postseason quarterback in NFL history. 

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

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

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

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

And in 1989, he threw a then-record 5 touchdown passes in the biggest blowout in Super key history, outplaying Broncos" quarterback man Elway, that was 2 years removed from one MVP award. 

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


Montana experienced through a devastating three-game big in the postseason (1985-1987) in which that threw zero touchdown passes and also posted a 50.5 passer rating. That led the 49ers to precisely three points in every game, all blowout losses. 

He was also benched in the third quarter the the 49ers" loss to the Vikings in the divisional round in 1987, among the biggest upsets in playoff history. That"s right. Joe Montana was benched in a playoff game, regardless of winning two Super Bowls in ~ that suggest in his career. 

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

He completed 70 percent that his passes for 22 touchdowns and also just 2 interceptions, and also his 126.5 passer rating contained a triple-digit passer rating in every eight games. 

His 16 job playoff wins space an NFL record and his .696 winning percentage is just one of the finest marks in history. 

Young"s postseason career is a very unusual one.

Officially, he play in 20 playoff games. 

However, 4 times he play cleanup for Montana in ~ the finish of a blowout win. Once, he changed an injured Montana but threw simply a single pass. An additional time that missed virtually an entire game after an early injury. And when Montana was benched in the 1987 divisional playoffs, Young played simply over a 4 minutes 1 of football.

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

He won eight gamings for a hard .615 winning percentage. After consecutive losses come the Cowboys in the NFC championship video game in 1992 and also 1993, Young led the 49ers come the supervisor Bowl, where he threw a at sight Bowl document six touchdown passes in a 49-26 pounding that the mountain Diego Chargers. 


He failed to command the 49ers ago to the Super key though, and also ultimately struggled against the environment-friendly Bay Packers in losses in 1995 and 1997 (he to be injured throughout the ns in 1996). 

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

Young turned in the greatest performance that his life in the supervisor Bowl, however posted just a 1-3 document in conference championship games. 

He threw 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his postseason career, because that an above average passer rating of 85.8. However, his 1.58 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the postseason is a far cry from his 2.17 mark in the regular season, and also without his six-touchdown performance in the super Bowl, he would have actually thrown simply 14 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. 

Conclusion: 

If one can state the insurance claim that Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback ever, why can"t one speak to Steve Young the best quarterback ever? 

Manning is constantly considered to it is in the game"s best regular season quarterback in history, yet Steve Young is even greater. And also while Manning is a an excellent postseason quarterback, Young is better. Therefore why hasn"t Steve Young ever before been considered the finest quarterback ever? 

I have heard arguments for Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, otto Graham, Sammy Baugh, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Bart Starr, Dan Marino, man Elway, and also Brett Favre. 

But never ever Steve Young.

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


That"s Joe Montana.

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

He is among two quarterbacks come win 4 Super Bowls and he is the just with 3 Super bowl MVPs. He is most likely the best clutch quarterback, and one that the game"s best postseason performers, and also he led 2 of the ten biggest game-winning cd driver in NFL history. 

He is among six quarterbacks to success multiple awards, and also according to brand-new QB Rating, his median season is simply a portion behind Young"s, making the arguably the second greatest continual season quarterback in history. 

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

Although Young win Montana in many percentages (completion percentage, yards every attempt, passer rating), the difference between their number is no a comprehensive amount, and also it becomes even less ~ the distinctions in ages are factored in. In fact, return Young damaged Montana"s single-season documents for completion percentage and passer rating, Montana"s totals space actually higher when adjusting come the difference in eras. 

If one could include four much more seasons come Young"s career, that would have actually had around 100 more touchdown passes and also probably an additional MVP. He can even have had a 2nd Super key title. In fact, it"s more than likely those four seasons that are preventing Young from surpassing Montana together the biggest quarterback in history. 


But there"s another thing we should remember: as soon as Young take it over for Montana, that was usually working with the team that Bill Walsh and Joe Montana had actually helped to create.

The 49ers had been winners for years and their immediate success with Young to be expected. After all, during the 4 years that rode the bench, Young had learned the quarterback position from a mix of Walsh"s coaching and from city hall Montana play.

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Montana, however, join a franchise which had suffered with a 2-14 season in 1979 and led them to a Super bowl title simply two years later. He experienced success after leaving the 49ers, top the Kansas City Chiefs come the AFC championship game in 1993. Excluding the nine-game strike season of 1982, he never played a season in i beg your pardon his team let go the postseason.

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

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