San Francisco's Quarterback Jeff Garcia was begging for a NFL job just a few years ago. Now he has joined other late bloomers such as Kurt Warner at the top of the charts.
Date: 00-12-14 by John Mullin, Chicago Tribune Staff Writer Actual Wording of Newspaper Clipping
Bracing for Battle: 49ers host the Chicago Bears
Jeff Garcia laughs at the notion that he might be this year's Kurt 49ers Jeff Garcia... Late Bloomer getting the Last Laugh Warner, a quarterback from football obscurity who turns into one of the top passers in the NFL. A quarterback anyone could have had but whose agent barely got the courtesy of returned phone calls.
He is entitled to a laugh on the NFL. Garcia has the fourth highest passer rating through 15 weeks, and in 14 games he has thrown exactly one fewer touchdown pass (28) than the Bears' franchise record (29) for their 80-year history.
And the Bears, stumbling through another quarterback change this week, were one of the teams that didn't have any interest in him when he was trying to get from the Calgary Stampeders to the NFL. His old college coach, Ron Turner, didn't even want him.
Garcia doesn't blame the Bears, whom he will be trying to pick apart Sunday at 3Com Park. They were simply doing what the NFL too often has done: jump to wrong conclusions. Future MVP Warner couldn't find work; Doug Flutie was too short; Jim Miller was a "journeyman," and Garcia, who starred at San Jose State under Turner, couldn't interest his old coach in bringing him to Chicago when Turner was offensive coordinator.
"It's a situtation that I believe happens quite often where talent is overlooked," Garcia, 30, said. "Quite often certain stereotypes are put out there as far as what scouts would like to see from players and they forget about what actually takes place on the field. Having me come in for an individual workout and watching me and what I did in a game under the heat of battle are two different things. When it comes down to a workout, I'm not going to be the guy people look at to step in and lead your team. But if you look at what I did on the field when it mattered, I made plays. I found ways to win."
Garcia is the latest quality quarterback find of the 49ers, who found Steve Young in Tampa Bay and Joe Montana in the third round (1979). They have a system that works, a coach who works with quarterbacks and a philosophy that drafts receivers for their quarterbacks: Jerry Rice (1985) and J. J. Stokes (1995) were first-round picks, Terrell Owens (1996) a third.
Garcia did not except to be where he is now. He was pushed into the starting job when Steve Young suffered what would be a career-ending concussion in October of 1999.