San Francisco 49ers: Franchise player

August, 18, 2008
8/18/08
1:04
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

 
 Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images
 Joe Montana was voted greatest San Francisco 49er in a crowded class.

Readers' choice: Joe Montana, QB

Montana was arguably the most accurate passer in NFL history. He was exactly what Bill Walsh needed to make his offense work. Montana's accuracy allowed receivers, tight ends and running backs to catch the ball in stride and break into the clear -- the key to transforming the short passing game into a big-play offense. Few quarterbacks performed as well in the clutch.

I could still make a strong case for Jerry Rice as the greatest player in 49ers history. While Montana was arguably the greatest NFL quarterback, Rice was undeniably the game's greatest receiver. Rice is the only consensus choice as the greatest player at a specific position. He dominated during championship games. He dominated across eras. He bounced back from a career-threatening knee injury to enjoy several productive seasons in his 30s.

Steve Young fell a distant third behind Montana and Rice in ESPN.com balloting. Young was arguably the most dynamic quarterback. He threw with accuracy and could function almost as a running back once he decided to run.

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