Back in the year 2000, the San Francisco 49ers were coming off a down season.
They missed the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons and lost their starting quarterback, Steve Young, who announced his retirement after the 1999 season.
The 2000 Draft offered only a single NFL ready QB in the first round in Chad Pennington, a standout at Marshall University.
Instead, San Francisco passed on Pennington to select Giovanni Carmazzi in the 3rd round and Tim Rattay in the 7th round. By the end of the 2000 season, the 49ers had their man at QB, and he wasn’t one of the two that were drafted.
Jeff Garcia played ball at San Jose State University, was passed over in the NFL Draft, and ended up going north to play in the Canadian Football League, where from 1994 to 1998, he played with the Calgary Stampeders, winning a Grey Cup (the CFL’s equivalent to the Super Bowl) and being named MVP of the game.
In 1999, Garcia signed with the 49ers and took over as the starter when Young was knocked out with a concussion. By 2000, while the 49ers were busy selecting two QBs in the draft, Garcia was setting a new team record in yards passing and by 2001, led the 49ers to the playoffs.
In 2002, Garcia and the 49ers won the NFC West for the first time since 1997 and in his finest game as a pro, Garcia brought the 49ers back from 24-points down to rally against the New York Giants in the NFC Wild Card game, the second biggest come-from-behind win in playoff history.
I see a lot of Jeff Garcia in Case Keenum and their situations are eerily similar.
Both were undrafted and both signed with teams from their home state where they also played college ball (Garcia-California; San Jose State; 49ers and Keenum-Texas; Houston; Texans).
Like Garcia, Keenum became the starting QB through injury and ended up in a situation where their respective team is now looking to select a QB in the Draft. The 49ers never expected Garcia to blossom into the player he ended up being, and the Houston Texans don’t seem to expect too much form Keenum either, but I believe they are wrong.
They have a diamond in the rough in Keenum, the same diamond in the rough the 49ers had in Jeff Garcia.
Keenum like Garcia played his rookie season on a terrible football team and both were passed over for the likes of the NFL Draft. For the 49ers, Carmazzi was supposed to be the man while Garcia was just a go-between until Gio was ready to play.
For Houston, the Texans seem set in their idea that Keenum isn’t their guy. They signed Ryan Fitzpatrick in the offseason to a two-year deal and appear to be willing to trade back in the draft, meaning the likelihood of them selecting a QB in the first round (just not with the first pick) might be set in stone.
Put Keenum on a good team, and he’s a Pro Bowl QB. Give Keenum another season with Houston and some explosive weapons on offense and he just might remind fellow 49er fans of the Jeff Garcia.