No. 4: 49ers give up on Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle
We have to go back into the archives a bit to break down the No. 4 most disappointing trade in Niners history. And in some ways, it parallels San Francisco’s moving of Joe Montana to free up space for Steve Young to start.
But, while Montana enjoyed a few more productive years from the Chiefs, he was entering the twilight of his career. And Young became a superstar in his own right.
That can’t exactly be said of the 1961 trade of Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle to the New York Giants, though, even though an up-and-coming quarterback, John Brodie, was waiting in the folds.
Brodie would go on to have his own success in relief of the then-35-year-old Tittle, who already head four Pro Bowl nods with the 49ers before being jettisoned to the G-Men. Yet Brodie’s success came nowhere close to that of Young, hence making this particular trade one of disappointment.
Tittle, already a star during his Niners days, effectively defined his career as a legendary quarterback after being traded to the Giants, netting three more Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pro selections while boasting a league-leading and career-high 36 pass touchdowns in 1963.
In hindsight, San Francisco has to be disappointed it didn’t hold onto Tittle a bit longer to capitalize on how he finished his legendary career.