Terrell Owens on 49ers QB Jeff Garcia: ‘I knew he wasn’t Steve Young’
By Peter Panacy
SF 49ers Hall of Fame wide receiver Terrell Owens recently contrasted two of his quarterbacks, Steve Young and Jeff Garcia.
The SF 49ers‘ No. 2 all-time leading wide receiver, Hall of Famer Terrell Owens, had the luxury of playing with two of the best Niners quarterbacks in franchise history, Steve Young and Jeff Garcia.
But even then, Owens recognized there were some sheer differences between both signal-callers’ respective abilities that would change how the wideout approached the game.
Appearing on the No Chill video podcast with NBA legend Gilbert Arenas this week on the Fubo Sports Network, Owens was asked to break down how both Young and Garcia differed.
And more importantly, how those differences impacted Owens’ efforts on the field.
“I had to adjust my kind of game to some of the quarterbacks because it was a different style,” Owens said. “Steve Young was more of a pocket passer. Yeah, he could run… but that’s not what he wants to do. But based on the precision and timing of our offense, that’s why he was so good.”
Young and Owens played together from when the latter broke into the NFL as a rookie with the 49ers in 1996 all the way into Young’s three games in 1999 before abruptly retiring because of injuries that season.
Over his first four years in the league, with Young starting 45 of those games, Owens amassed 222 receptions for 3,307 yards and 30 receiving touchdowns before Garcia would become the primary option under center.
“[Garcia] moved with his feet, made plays with his feet just like Steve could do,” Owens continued. “But he’s not your typical pocket passer that could drop back in the pocket and throw the ball 50, 60 yards down the field. Be accurate all over the field.”
Garcia finished 1999 in relief of Young and would go on to become the 49ers starter the next four seasons. And in 2000, with Owens netting a career-best 1,451 receiving yards that season, Garcia would set a franchise-best passing record with 4,278 passing yards.
Still, Owens wondered if his numbers could have been better with a deeper, downfield approach.
“For me, I realized that’s what I had. Those were the cards I had dealt,” Owens added when asked if the transition from Young to Garcia was tough on his numbers. “I knew he wasn’t Steve Young.”
Owens did admit, however, he was able to hone his game into something where he could pick up extra yards after the catch. And while he tells the story about how coaches would admit his own touchdown totals could have been higher if Garcia managed better accuracy, it’s also important to recognize Owens managed league-high receiving touchdowns in 2001 (16) and 2002 (13).
Although Owens still thinks it could have been higher.
“[My coach] even said, ‘You could have had 22 or 23 touchdowns.’ The most I had was 15 or 16, I think,” Owens said.
Nevertheless, Owens still finished as a Pro Bowler in all four seasons with Garcia under center, including three years where he was a first-team All-Pro.
No Chill with Gilbert Arenas every Monday night at 8 p.m. ET on fubo Sports Network.