Nate Montana gets San Francisco 49ers tryout
Daniel Brown - San Jose Mercury News - April 18, 2013
SANTA CLARA -- Nate Montana was on the 49ers' practice field Wednesday trying to make a name for himself.
Well, a first name, anyway. That last name is pretty well established.
"It's like a blessing and a curse. You try to ignore, "Oh, that's Joe Montana's son,'" the quarterback said after the 49ers' workout for local pro prospects. "You just try to work and show them that you're a different player than your dad."
Nate Montana, 23, does not expect to be selected during the NFL Draft next week, figuring he's more likely to catch on as an undrafted free agent. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder is also open to possibility of playing in the Arena Football League or in Canada. He just wants a shot.
Nate's younger brother, Nick, is a well regarded quarterback prospect who signed with Tulane and will be a junior in the fall after transferring from Mt. San Antonio College.
Nate Montana spent his senior season at West Virginia Wesleyan, the last of his four college stops. Because he attended De La Salle High in Concord, he was eligible to attend the 49ers' local pro day along with about 50 other draft hopefuls.
This was his first workout for an NFL team. It was also the first-ever visit to the Santa Clara facility for the son of the Hall of Fame quarterback.
"I love the Bay Area. It's a great, great place. I lived here and grew up here my whole life. In that aspect, it's awesome to be local," he said. "Coming back to where my dad played, you just have to put your head down and try to make your own name."
The Bay Area represents the closest thing to roots for a player coming off a nomadic collegiate career. Nate Montana was a backup at Pasadena City College, Notre Dame and the University of Montana before starting nine games during his senior season at West Virginia Wesleyan.
Nate finally got a chance to play at that Division II school, where he led the conference in passing yards (2,480) and touchdown passes (19). He was an honorable mention all-conference selection.
Jonas Jackson, the Bobcats head coach last season, said in a phone interview that Nate Montana was not the type to ride on his father's coattails.
"One of the first things I want to say is: That kid was an extremely hard worker. One day, he's going to be a great coach," Jackson said. "He watched a ton of film and asked a ton of questions. What he's doing, it's not because of his dad. He had his own love of the game."
Montana attempted at least 50 passes in seven of his games, completing 51.6 percent. His biggest game was against West Virginia State, when he threw for 432 yards and four touchdowns.
"He makes all the right reads. He's so fast at reading the field that he's on it before it happens," Jackson said. "A guy that works that hard only needs an opportunity."
In evaluating his performance, Montana said: "I'm just trying to come out here and compete with the other guys and show a team I can play."
Nate Montana understands that his NFL prospects are bleak. He was not among the 16 quarterbacks invited to the Scouting Combine and his performance at the NFL Regional Combine last week at Cowboys Stadium drew mixed reviews.
Nate said his dad has been most helpful in trying to prepare him for challenging road ahead.
"He's been really supportive. It's been great having him. He's been through the process." Nate said. "He opened my eyes to how cutthroat the business is. I know a little of what to expect."
Nate Montana (Wikipedia)
Nathaniel Joseph "Nate" Montana (born October 3, 1989) is a college football quarterback at West Virginia Wesleyan College. After walking-on at Notre Dame as a freshman in 2008, he transferred to Pasadena City College in 2009, went back to Notre Dame in 2010, transferred to Montana in 2011, and to West Virginia Wesleyan in 2012. Montana is the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, and he will be eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Nate Montana is a long shot, despite having a good past season in Division II. After a season of experience as a freshman at a Junior College (similar to high school football), he was recruited by Notre Dame, following in his father's footsteps. However, that didn't work out because they were overloaded with quarterbacks, and he then transferred to the University of Montana (Division I) for the next season. Apparently he wanted to play right away, and that didn't work out either.
What is interesting, and perhaps I'm biased, but he does seem to have a lot or raw talent. He did have another year of eligibility, but I think he grew tired of bouncing around. If he had the same type of season in Division I or even Division IAA, and he had maybe two such seasons, then his chances would be much better. He probably will not be drafted at the end of the month, but will likely be signed as a free agent. Will an NFL team use a roster spot to develop a player with raw talent? It has happened before.