The Top-5 49ers Quarterbacks Post-Steve Young

May 14, 2021, 2:51 PM | Updated: 2:51 pm
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 20: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass in...
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

When the 49ers selected Trey Lance with the #3 overall pick last week, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan signaled to the fan base that they had found their franchise quarterback for the next decade plus.

Franchise quarterbacks were a normal thing for the 49ers pre-2000. From former league MVP John Brodie to hall of famers Y.A. Tittle, Joe Montana, and Steve Young, the 49ers were synonymous with top-tier quarterback talent.

Young’s career came to an unfortunate end during a Week 3 Monday Night Football game in Arizona, and since that fateful night, the 49ers have had 16 (!) different players start behind Center. From #1 overall picks to Sacramento-area standouts to CFL All-Stars, the 49ers have had a pupu platter of starting QB’s.

Let’s take a look at the five best since Steve Young.

***Editors Note: this list takes into account the quarterbacks career in SF only***

5. Shaun Hill

The 12-year journeyman spent 3 seasons in San Francisco, starting 16 games and compiling a respectable 10-6 record in those starts. Former head coach Mike Singletary named Hill the starting quarterback to start the 2009 season, and despite an excellent start to the year, Hill faded and and was benched in the second-half of a Week 7 match-up with Houston. Hill never got the starting job back, and left after the season for Detroit, where he spent the next 4 seasons, followed by stints in St. Louis and Minnesota.

4. Alex Smith

The 2005 #1 overall pick was tasked with being the next franchise quarterback for the 49ers. Smith’s first six seasons in San Francisco were less than ideal, as injuries and a carousel of offensive coordiators made it impossible for Smith to find any consistancy.

It wasn’t until the 2011 hiring of head coach Jim Harbaugh that Smith began to turn it around, going 19-5-1 with a passer rating of 95.1 and TD/INT ratio of 3-1 over the next season and a half. Smith would get hurt midway through the 2012 season, eventually losing his starting job to backup Colin Kaepernick.

Smith would be traded in the offseason to Kansas City, where he enjoyed 3 Pro-Bowl appearances in 5 seasons under offensive guru Andy Reid.

3. Colin Kaepernick

A 2011 second-round pick out of the University of Nevada, Reno, Kaepernick would be thrust into the starting lineup after Alex Smith went down in Week 10 of the 2012 season.

In his next seven starts, Kaepernick would go 5-2 with a 98.3 passer rating. Kaepernick played so well that head coach Jim Harbaugh elected to stick with him after Alex Smith had recovered from injury. Kapernick led the 49ers into Super Bowl XLVII, falling a yard short of the 49ers first Super Bowl win since the 1994 season. Over the next four seasons, Kaepernick would play for three head coaches, compiling a 23-28 record with 62 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. Kaepernick opted out of is contract after 2016, a season in which he started 10 games and had his higest passer rating since 2012 (90.7).

That season, however, would best be remembered for Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem to bring awareness to police brutality and racial injustice. The polarizing Kaepernick has not played an NFL game since 2016.

2. Jimmy Garappolo

Coming over to a winless 49ers team midway through the 2017 season, the former New England Patriots backup was given the starting job in Week 13, finishing the season 5-0 and cementing himself as the teams quarterback of the future, signing a 5-year, $137.5 million contract in the offseason.

Injuries limited Garoppolo to just 3 games in the 2018 season, but a breakout 2019 season saw Garoppolo start all 16 games for San Francisco, compiling a 13-3 record, with a passer rating of 102.0 and winning the Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year award and taking the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV, losing narrowly to the Chiefs 31-20.

Another injury prone season in 2020 led the 49ers to draft North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the #3 overall pick in the 2021 draft, with expectations that he will replace Garoppolo at some point over the next couple seasons.

1. Jeff Garcia

A four-time CFL All-Star, Garcia was signed in 1999 to backup Steve Young.

Garcia would take over after Young suffered a career-ending concussion in a Week 3 Monday Night Football game against the Cardinals. Garcia was inconsistent in his first season, even prompting head coach Steve Mariucci to bench him for three games in favor of journeyman Steve Stenstrom. The next four seasons would be much more successful for Garcia, going to three straight Pro-Bowls (2000-2002), and leading the 49ers to their last playoff appearance before the 2011 season in 2002.

Drama with star receiver Terrell Owens helped lead the 49ers to release Garcia after the 2003 season. Garcia would play for four teams over the next six seasons, returning to the Pro Bowl one last time in 2007 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


Jordan Jenkins #50 of the Houston Texans reacts after a defensive stop during the third quarter aga...
Joseph Jarosz

Las Vegas Raiders Sign Defensive End Jordan Jenkins

The Las Vegas Raiders have signed defensive end Jordan Jenkins. Jenkins spent his first five seasons in the NFL with the New York Jets. As a defensive end with the Jets, he played 72 games, starting 62 and recording 7 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, and 22.5 sacks. In 2019, he led the Jets with […]
18 hours ago
EAGAN, MN - AUGUST 18: Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up during a joint practice wi...
Amiliano Fragoso

Day Two of 49ers Joint Practice With Vikings Gets Chippy

Day two of joint practice between the San Francisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings came with a bit more fire as both sides got into a few scrums throughout the day. The 49ers have been known to play a bit harder than most in practice and the Vikings had enough of it Thursday, with veteran […]
18 hours ago
Sactown Sports 1140...
Amiliano Fragoso

DeMeco Ryans Explains Darqueze Dennard Release; Focusing on Youth Movement in the Secondary

Following Thursday’s practice, 49ers’ defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans spoke to the media regarding his unit’s performance over the past two days. The San Francisco 49ers traveled to Minnesota earlier this week to join the Vikings for joint practices Wednesday and Thursday, prior to Saturday afternoon’s preseason game. The former linebacker came away pleased with his […]
18 hours ago
Dan Campbell, head coach of the Detroit Lions during the Detroit Lions Training Camp on July 27, 20...
Joseph Jarosz

Detroit Lions Season Preview: Will The Team Peak With ‘Hard Knocks’?

Hopefully, the Detroit Lions haven’t already peaked. How could the peak already when it’s only the preseason you ask? As the feature team on “Hard Knocks,” the HBO NFL training camp reality series, the team is showing off its personality, led by head coach Dan Campbell. But, they didn’t sign any eath-shattering players in free […]
18 hours ago
Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to a football game against the Jacksonvill...
Joseph Jarosz

Cleveland Browns Quarterback Deshaun Watson Suspended 11 Games, Fined

Deshaun Watson won’t miss the entire 2022 NFL season. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and later confirmed by the league, the Cleveland Browns quarterback is suspended for 11 games. This comes following an agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association [NFLPA]. Watson is also expected to pay a $5 fine. Watson’s fine, plus […]
18 hours ago
Tyree Gillespie #37 of the Las Vegas Raiders warms up prior to the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame G...
Joseph Jarosz

Las Vegas Raiders Trade Safety Tyree Gillespie To Titans

The Las Vegas Raiders traded safety Tyree Gillespie to the Tennessee Titans. In exchange for the second-year Gillespie, the Raiders receive a 2024 seventh-round draft pick. Gillespie was drafted by the Raiders in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. In 11 games with the Raiders, he played in 11 regular season games and […]
2 days ago
The Top-5 49ers Quarterbacks Post-Steve Young