Winning A Place In Our Hearts--10/19/01
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It was just two season's ago when 49ers were 4-12, Steve Young was lost for the season, and Jeff Garcia saw his first NFL action. Garcia was benched in favor of Steve Stenstrom that year, only to return to the line up later in that season. It was pretty evident at the time that the 49ers were in trouble, and most fans were calling for Garcia's head.

The media and fans were so down on Garcia that it got to a point when Garcia's father called a KNBR talk show to defend his son. In retrospect the call probably only made matters worse for Garcia. Garcia struggled in Steve Young's and Joe Montana's shadow, and had a really hard time breaking in the notion that a former Canadian Football League MVP could get the job done in the NFL.

A year later, with a full off-season of training as the number one quarterback, and with the drafting of two young quarterbacks (Giovanni Carmazzi and Tim Ratty), Garcia was finally ready to show the NFL what he was made of. The smallish quarterback, with happy feet, through for more yards than any 49ers quarterback ever, had an incredible touchdown to interception ratio of 31 to 10. Garcia lead a young struggling team with no defense to a 6-10 record, and was on his way to center stage as the Pro Bowl in February.

Jeff Garcia is now in his third year as 49ers quarterback. The 31-year old Garcia has managed to stay healthy enough to start, and has his team tied for second in the league at 4-1. The team is gaining confidence, as is Garcia, and the playoffs, which were once a dream could now even be in reach if they continue on course. Garcia's play this year has been good, he hasn't thrown for a million yards by any means, but that's largely due to the team establishing a run game. When given the opportunity, Garcia has shown that he can make the plays, in the air or on the ground. He has demonstrated good decision-making and has stayed patient with his receivers. As the season progresses, and JJ Stokes' role in the offense increases, we may see some even more amazing things from Garcia.

By no means is Garcia making 49ers fans forget about Montana and Young. Nobody, not even Garcia wants us to forget about the two legendary quarterbacks. Garcia is however putting his best foot forward, trying to lead the team to success, and in so doing has won a place in nearly every 49ers fan's heart. We now know what Bill Walsh knew three years ago, Garcia has what it takes to be a winner, now if he can just keep doing it, we'll all be happy.

Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum

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