ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Sam Wyche knows plenty about Joe Montana, having coached him and coached against him. He knows what he's talking about when it comes to the legendary quarterback.
Wyche was an assistant coach in San Francisco when Joe was with the 49ers, then he was head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals team in Super Bowl XXIII that had a 16-13 lead with 3:10 left, only to see Joe lead a 92-yard TD drive that gave the 49ers the championship in what is considered to be one of the best Super Bowls ever played.
But at the Under Armour All-America Game on Saturday, Wyche coached the Black team, with Joe's son -- Washington-bound Nick Montana (Concord, Calif./Oaks Christian) -- as one of his QBs.
While Wyche didn't have immediate flashbacks (those came later), it didn't take long for the inventor of the no-huddle offense to see the similarities.
"A, he looks like Joe, so that's a reminder," Wyche said. "He has some of the same personality traits. He's an outgoing guy and has great chemistry with the ballplayers, none of whom he knew before he got here."
When the pads came on for the first practice Wednesday, it was like looking at film of Joe Montana dropping back from under center, including a touchdown throw, that brought back memories.
"In terms of style of play, he's got the same gait, as I would call it, as Joe. You watch Joe Montana on film and you'll see that his third step is always the biggest one. He always got a little extra depth, and I can see where he must have mentioned that to his son," Wyche said. "He's a very confident kid. He's seen just about everything you can see. I can tell he's had very good high school coaching and had good training and tips from back home.
"There was a play on the first day of practice where Nick threw a slant pattern to the right-hand side in between every defender for a touchdown and I was déjà vu-ing. It was from the left side where Joe hit John Taylor for the touchdown that won Super Bowl XXIII that beat my Cincinnati Bengals."
In Saturday's 32-7 win by the Montana-led Black team, the future Husky flashed some of the playmaking ability under pressure that isn't shown in a practice setting. Montana started at quarterback for the Black team. He threw a five-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and finished with 38 yards passing, rotating with fellow quarterback Phillip Sims (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Frommel) and Devin Gardner (Inkster, Mich./Inkster) every third series.
"Well, he's a gamer. He plays better than he practices. He practiced well this week, but played even better. You saw the judgment come out in the game," Wyche said. "Other than the last pass where he got loosey-goosey, he played well. He showed awfully good poise under pressure today."
For Nick Montana, the experience playing this week for Wyche is one he'll take with him forever.
"It's been great this week playing for Coach Wyche," Montana said. "My dad gave me a heads-up and told me how funny he is. We had a lot of fun together. He's got a good sense of humor and is a just a great coach. I was really fortunate to spend a week with a coach like him. He gave me a lot of tips this week that will help me down the line and I'll keep with me my entire career."
Gerry Hamilton has covered recruiting in Texas and the Southwest for more than a decade. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.