Montana Magic

Stumbled across these great videos of Joe Montana, grand executor of Bill Walsh’s precision offense. There are many great things to notice from these clips, but in particularly focus on Montana’s footwork. This is one area where quarterbacks as a whole have regressed.



  • Mike

    What’d he do after college? I stopped following him after Notre Dame.

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  • T-Rac’s Posse

    In regards to the comment about QBs on the whole have regressed in footwork, is this really true? Manning and Brady seem to have excellent footwork, and outside of Montana, how many QBs from that era had such perfect footwork?

  • thehurt

    Love it. It’s amazing to see how his fundamentals continued to develop, even in the pros. That’s why he was the best ever – not even close to being the most talented, but worked his tail off to get better. Compare the clips of him at ND to the Chiefs-Niners game – he’s so much smoother, has a more disciplined arm motion, and his footwork is impeccable. Great example for young quarterbacks.

  • http://brophyfootball.blogspot.com brophy

    How much has footwork altered/streamlined from the Walsh-style drop-backs of varying 1,3 (big),5 (fast),7 step,etc drops? Young continued in that vane, but I don’t see a whole lot of emphasis on those variations much anymore. Most folks are doing more and more to truncate the drop (through the gun) as well as relying on decisions through the hitch(es) phase after the plant.
    Hope all is well, keep up the great work.

  • James

    “…:but in particularly focus on Montana’s footwork. This is one area where quarterbacks as a whole have regressed. ”

    This seems like a very subjective and arbitrary thing to say.

  • http://brophyfootball.blogspot.com brophy

    I’ll throw another worthless penny of meandering thoughts, but how much of the ‘abandonment’of drop nuances could be tied to the proliferation of outside zone (stretch) running through the 90’s? The sweeping extension (drive) of the QB for the OZ mesh (and its complimentary emphasis on the bootleg quarterbacks….ala Elway,Vick, McNair, etc), did that footwork obsolesce the necessity of heavy drop-back passing game?
    As always, I reserve the right to be utterly and completely wrong.

  • Brian

    If you’ve ever seen Quarterbacking by Bill Walsh, Joe’s footwork is still intact roughly 10 years after he retired. Walsh worked a lot with his QBs on footwork, it was essential to the WCO. Nowadays, not so much.

  • http://sparrowhisperer.blogspot.com/ sparrowhisperer

    Does Manning have great footwork? He seems awfully jumpy in the pocket. In terms of resemblance to Montana, I would have to say Brady. They both take equally paced smooth steps back and then step in, making it a thing of beauty — the whole gliding motion. Manning takes many high frequency jabs when he is in the pocket, helps him set his feet quickly at any time though.

  • http://grants-tomb.blogspot.com DC

    What strikes me isn’t Montana’s footwork, but how many white guys are playing in the college clips.

  • PK

    They should’ve named this video “Every Touchdown Pass Montana Ever Threw To Anyone Except Jerry Rice.”

    Is it me, or was Rice’s relative absence in this video odd?

  • PK

    Welp, I guess I neglected the two videos after the jump. Don’t I feel like a horse’s patoot.

  • frank

    I saw a lot of his passes thrown off of his RIGHT foot, which for a right-hander, is not correct, is it? Don’t know why you even mention the footwork.

  • frank

    What I mean is, he isn’t stepping through during the pass, but sort of hopping on his right foot while throwing. You can’t argue the results, but it’s certainly not textbook form half the time.

  • Bobino

    I don’t know if Sweet 16 was the best ever, but he surely was the more graceful of the best quaterbacks I’ve seen in my life, and I’ve seen a few considering my age.

    Walsh said once that the FIRST thing he would notice in a QB was his feet and that’s what convinced him to draft than tiny little QB with a so-so arm from Notre-Dame. Coming from the greatest coach of his era and maybe the era that followed (through the likes of George Seifert, Andy Reed, Mike Holmgren, etc.), that says it all.

    Great videos and great memories…

  • Coach J

    Nice words Bobino,

    you said it all.

    The next great dancer? I have to say Drew Brees, he of the Junior Tennis lore. A young QB should think about some tennis or squash playing during the off-season.

  • Rooneytunes

    walsh was the first to really drill the syncing up of QB and receiver with the number of steps in the dropback and pattern, that is the pt to all this, when Favre came into the league in the 90s he admitted he didnt read coverage and didnt really have a drop back. Walsh and Joe were the pioneers in a lot of ways, and yes the Gun has made it a different game now, just look at the 4 years it has taken #11 at the niners to be proficient under centre…

  • Buddy

    I saw this posted on Huey’s website by a member! It was awesome!

  • Mr.Murder

    Montana shaves the follow through for two reasons, on outside throws.

    First, his players would flatten routes on high coverage, corners got tired of being burned and would sit back. Many of his routes were shallow crossers, and staying flat on the route prevented run under attempts to pick the out routes for six.

    His shaving the step made sure the ball tailed lower on trajectory and stopped it sailing, making it more likely the target gets it, and nobody else, outside.

    His hitch step on the throw back prevented a step up on passer rushers who could get into his footwork or hit him hard. It was more like a pass in hoops, step back, ball over. By taking the hitch off the route he’s able to avoid becoming hit after the ball is gone, it added some years to him, he’s already scrambled out of the pocket.

    The footwork in pocket is much different, unless the call is an interior screen, he’s stepping up. The rollout or slide out of the pocket is different. He’s already going that direction and avoiding contain, more depth on his step to the outside is not as likely to get the backside hit.

    Thus he has great discpline, knowing where he can use the extra field to use the system, set up higher ball control percentages, and still avoid pressure to his face or from back.

  • Sanders

    I saw an interview one time where Montana said the greatest lesson he was ever taught was by his dad to get back through his step progression as fast as possible. He didn’t like the statue back peddle, but wanted to get in his passing stance as quick as he could.

  • Mr.Murder

    My first thought on seeing him throw on the runw as that he must love the scramble drill in practice.

    All those goal line near/far halfback and fullback fakes, Ohio valley offense stuff from Walsh days coaching with Paul Brown and the Bengals.

  • Mason

    Thanks for sharing my video on here…there’s two more on YouTube with more highlights of his. I love the focus on footwork and qb’s here.

    Little known fact:

    Montana had scholarship offers to play basketball in college. What can basketball teach and hone in an athlete? Great footwork…

  • Mason

    Nevermind, all three of my videos are already on here…thanks again…

  • Mr.Murder

    The greatest game I’ve ever seen by a quarterback in terms of being able to see the guy do progressions and reads was Montana, as a Chief.

    He upset the Buddy Ryan Oilers on their home turf. That Oilers team was playing good as any at the time, and Joe just took them down with the most savvy game ever seen.

  • Mr.Murder

    Amazingly, in the Super Bowl Phil Simms was complimenting Brees sense of being able to “step back from the pocket to buy more time and better throw angles” and it hearkens back to these Joe Montana higlights!