The 49ers found their franchise quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo due Belichick not wanting to send him to Cleveland, the city of dead ends for quarterbacks.
It has been a long time since The Faithful could say this with a virtual certainty, and to prove it, I’ve accumulated a list of all 16 quarterbacks to start for the 49ers since Steve Young’s final concussion. Read them and weep.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo
I’m already ready to put Garoppolo this high. When you take over a 1-10 team and go 5-0, you are just special. No two ways about it. He isn’t perfect yet, but he reads defenses well and has an incredibly quick release. He will be the face of the franchise for a long time.
2. Jeff Garcia
Was he talented? Hardly. Was he a winner? Absolutely. He was the last 49ers quarterback to start at least 75% of their games four seasons in a row, getting them to the playoffs twice. He never had much of an arm and his best weapon on offense hated him, but he was always gutsy and proved it at every stop in his career.
3. Alex Smith
The first 4 years of Smith’s career can only be described as disastrous. He missed 32 games due to injury and had a penchant for throwing ill-timed interceptions. To be fair, Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary were terrible head coaches who had no business coaching a quarterback. Then Jim Harbaugh took over as coach and managed to get Smith to cut down on the interceptions and become a very efficient, low mistake quarterback. He managed to win an incredible game over the Saints in the playoffs before being traded to Kansas City in 2013.
4. Colin Kaepernick
Kaepernick get this high for how dominating he was in the first season as a starter when he took over for an injured Alex Smith and went 8-3 in getting the 49ers to the Super Bowl. He played well in 2013 when the 49ers reached the NFC Championship Game, but fizzled out in 2014 and never really recovered. Kaepernick has a very low interception rate, which is very impressive given the amount of snaps he’s taken, but his inability to read defenses and lack of growth or development as a pocket passer forced him out of the league this year.
5. Shaun Hill
He was the 49ers third string quarterback in 2007 when he took over due to injuries to Alex Smith and Trent Dilfer and ended up doing well for himself, getting 2 straight wins. He took over for JT O’Sullivan the next year and went 5-3 after being 2-6 under O’Sullivan. He didn’t have much talent, but he was competitive and scrappy and finished with a 10-6 record as starting quarterback for the 49ers in 3 seasons.
6. Troy Smith
This is where the ugliness starts. Troy Smith manages to be this high due to the lone fact that he managed to get a few wins in his starts, but his time as a starter unceremoniously ended with a shouting match with then head coach Mike Singletary. He did okay given the fact that he should have never sniffed the field, but there is a reason why he has not played since.
7. CJ Beathard
I don’t want to knock Beathard down too low because the guys below are atrocities, while Beathard is a 3rd round rookie who wasn’t supposed to play this year. His first 6 games (5 starts) were underwhelming though, with his porous completion percentage and bad conversion rate on third down. He never showed he could be efficient in college either. He plays with heart and maybe he can carve out a niche as a reliable backup, but his days as a starter are all but over.
8. Tim Rattay
Rattay was promising in 2003 while serving as backup to Jeff Garcia. In 2004, Rattay became the de facto starter when the team got rid of Garcia due to cap problems and showed everybody exactly why he should never be the #1 quarterback on any roster. He wasn’t awful, but he definitely wasn’t starting quarterback material. The 49ers traded him to the Bucs in 2005.
9. Blaine Gabbert
Gabbert is not a good quarterback. He has a penchant for throwing interceptions and has had 3 unimpressive stops in his 7 year career. His completion percentage was decent enough to keep him this high on the list, but he was 4-9 for the 49ers and The Faithful all rejoiced when they didn’t bring him back.
10. Brian Hoyer
Hoyer had been a reliable but injury prone stopgap at all of his stops. He was supposed to fill the same role for the 49ers, but went 0-6 as a starter led the offense to four games without a touchdown before being benched by CJ Beathard in week 6.
11. JT O’Sullivan
This guy…. He started his tenure with the 49ers 2-1 before losing 5 straight. He led the league in both interceptions and fumbles when the 49ers finally benched him for Shaun Hill. He’s only this high due to how impressive he was in those two wins. That’s how bad the rest of this list is.
12. Trent Dilfer
Dilfer was always a bad quarterback on a good team until he became a bad quarterback for a very bad team on the 2007 49ers. He went 1-5 for the 49ers and threw 12 interceptions in that span before a concussion ended his time with the 49ers and his career.
13. Ken Dorsey
I always felt bad for Dorsey. He was a backup on a very bad team and got thrust into the starting lineup due to Tim Rattay’s injury. He always played with heart, but he was bad. Really bad.
14. Steve Stenstrom
He started the season as the third string quarterback. He ended up getting into 6 games in 1999 while starting three of them. He threw 0 touchdowns and 4 interceptions while completing 54% of his passes. He never played in the new millennium, and for good reason.
15. Chris Weinke
He sucked everywhere else he had been. He started one game for the Niners. He lost. Amen.
16. Cody Pickett
You know you have to be abysmal to be at the bottom of this list. When you complete 40% of your passes and throw 0 touchdowns along with 4 picks like Pickett did, you earn it.