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Joe Montana: ‘A little early’ to crown Jimmy Garoppolo

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo

The San Francisco 49ers and their fans are doing backflips about landing a player in Jimmy Garoppolo that they believe is the long-term franchise quarterback. This storied franchise hasn’t had a truly elite quarterback since the days of Steve Young, and before him, Joe Montana.

It’s not hard to understand why the franchise is excited about Garoppolo. He’s never lost a game he started in the NFL, and he helped the 49ers rattle off five straight wins to close out the 2017 campaign.

That said, Montana, appearing on the NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” show Tuesday morning, preached caution instead.

“I think it’s still a little early for it, myself,” Montana said. “He’s obviously has a lot more success in the games he’s played in so far than the other quarterbacks that have been there recently. I think there’s a lot of excitement in the Bay Area about it.”

Garoppolo was acquired in a trade with New England that looks like highway robbery now — San Francisco gave up just a second-round pick for the quarterback. After a brief period of inaction, he was inserted into the lineup in the fourth quarter of the team’s Week 12 game against Seattle and promptly threw a touchdown pass. Then he won his next five starts, and, combined with his tenure in New England, has a record of 7-0 as a starter in the NFL.

So, obviously it’s not crazy for 49ers fans to be geeked out about the possibilities going forward. That said, Montana really wants to see more before crowning Garoppolo as the franchise’s next great passer.

“This year will be a big tell on it,” Montana said. “They paid a lot of money for him. But I think there’s some belief there that he’ll be there for a while.”

If Garoppolo does come through the way San Francisco believes he will, then the franchise will be set up for long-term success. If he fails, however, then general manager John Lynch and the 49ers brass with have egg on its face in a big way after giving up so much money to a guy with seven career starts.